Circles of Life Conference

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Circles of Life is Wisconsin’s annual conference for families who have children with disabilities and the professionals who support them.


The Circles of Life Conference is in our 39th year as the annual, statewide conference for families of children and youth wit disabilities and the professionals who support them. In 2023, over 700 families and professionals attended Circles of Life. This is a unique opportunity for families to develop new skills, learn about resources and form lasting relationships. The conference includes a keynote, over 25 breakout sessions and evening events.

2024’s Theme

The planning committee would like to include sessions that help families build their communities. This includes learning about strategies to build a community, as well as programs and services that support families to create an inclusive community for children, teens or adult family members with a disability. (Proposals on a wide variety of other topics will also be selected.)

Support Circles


In 2023 Circles of Life had over 40 resource vendors! Conference goers met with these organizations on scheduled breaks throughout both days to learn about their valuable resources.

Exhibitor Times:

Set up: May 15, 6:30 – 8:00 pm and May 16, 7:00- 8:00 am

Exhibitor Hours: May 16, 8:30 – 4:30 and May 17, 8:30 – 1:00 pm


Attendees receive a free Conference Program so you will be sure reach hundreds of individuals. It contains all the details needed to enjoy the event.

This year’s Program is available in print and online as a phone-friendly guide. Attendee favorites are included: Schedule at a glance | Keynote and workshop descriptions | Exhibitor listing | Links to sponsors | A listing of resource organizations for families who have children with disabilities.

Ad Dimensions:

  • Full page: 7.7 inches (width) x 10.2 inches (height)
  • Half-page: Horizontal Ad: 7.7 inches (width) x 4.5 inches (height)
  • Half-page: Vertical Ad: 3.6 inches (width) x 9.5 inches (height)
  • Quarter page: 3.6 inches (width) x 4.5 inches (height)

Email ads to Lynn, Family Voices of Wisconsin, at

Ad Deadline: March 24, 2024

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Contact Brian Kenney, Gathering of Youth Facilitator, at or (608)448-9034.

To Register:

Registration is required to take part in Gathering of Youth. This lets staff get to know your teen and ensures they have the needed health and safety information. To register, first, register yourself for the conference and indicate that your young adult will participate in Gathering of Youth. Then a separate link to register your young adult will be emailed to you. You can use this link, 2024 Gathering of Youth Registration, if you have already registered.

Activities for Children

Gathering of Youth

Gathering of Youth is a unique conference track for teens and young adults, ages 13 to 22, who have disabilities. These are supervised sessions that run while parents take part in the keynote and workshops.

Participants eat meals with their families or join tables with other youth. Check-in with your teen before meals and make sure they return to the Gathering of Youth room before going to your workshops.



Sibshops are celebrations of the contributions made by sisters and brothers of kids with special health needs. As a registere Sibshop of WisconSibs, Inc., this workshop for “typical” siblings, ages 8-13, provides lively, age-appropriate activities and relaxed discussions about the challenges and joys of having a sibling with disabilities.

Please Note:

To participate in Sibshop, you must register for the conference and then separately register your child for Sibshop. There is no additional fee for this program, but the sibling must be registered for the conference ($60) and a parent or guardian must be onsite at the Holiday Inn conference center.

To Register:

2024 Sibshop Registration

The deadline to register for Sibshop is Monday, May 1.


To learn more about Sibshop, please contact Tessa at


2024 Program will be released shortly before the conference in May, 2024.


2024 Session Information Coming Soon

Schedule at a Glance

Thursday, May 16

7:45 – 9:00  →  Check-In and Breakfast

9:00 – 11:45  →  SibShop

9:00 – 4:30  → Gathering of Youth (break from 11:45 – 1:30)

9:00 – 10:15  →  Welcome and Keynote Address

10:15 – 10:30  →  Break and Exhibitor Visits

10:30 – 11:45  →  Session A Workshops

11:45 – 1:15  →  Lunch and Awards

1:30 – 2:45  →  Session B Workshops

2:45 – 3:15  →  Break and Exhibitor Visits

3:15 – 4:30  →  Session C Workshops

4:45 – 6:30  →  Dinner and Family Voices Listening Session

6:30 – 8:00  →  Family Fun Night


Friday, May 17

7:45 – 8:45  →  Breakfast

9:00 – 11:45  →  Gathering of Youth

9:00 – 12:00  →  Birth to 3 Program ICC Town Hall

9:00 – 10:15  →  Session D Workshops

10:15 – 10:30  →  Break and Exhibitor Visits

10:30 – 11:45  →  Session E Workshops

11:45 – 1:00  →  Lunch—Slide Show, Door Prizes and Closing

Keynote Speaker


Cathy Ficker Terrill, MS

Cathy is a mother, disability advocate, national speaker and consultant. She is an educator at the university-level with leadership positions in  government and nonprofit organizations. Cathy and her adult daughter, Beth, speak nationally about the importance of social capitalꟷa key part of building  a communityꟷin the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities from an early age, and all life-long.



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