Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Check out Shelly, who is using a smart projector and an adaptive paintbrush to paint her latest masterpiece while participating in an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source art class.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Step Away From The Table

A theme that runs throughout this blog, one which has been there since the very beginning, is my questioning of proposed and enacted changes in the Colorado system of funding and delivering services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

I return to this theme frequently because we always seem to have some movement for change coming from somewhere. I love change. Let me repeat that – I love change. Particularly when possible improvements are so obvious. Take automobile brakes and the evolution from the Fred Flintstone model to hand brakes, disk brakes, anti-lock brakes, and regenerative braking of today. Impressive changes that we have to love and enjoy. This does take vision. If we asked Fred Flintstone what he would want to improve automobile brakes, he would have said, “Invent me some shoes.”

We are presented with an opportunity to overcome some very similar issues in the design of Colorado’s service delivery system for folks with I/DD. Given that opportunity over the next handful of years, let’s not squander our thinking focused on yesterday’s problems, today’s problems, or even tomorrow’s problems.

Instead, let’s get people in the room who are visionaries. People who are toying with solutions to problems we will encounter 8 - 10 years from now. After all, one would think a system design should have a life of about 10 to 20 years before evolution or technology shakes it up again. At our current pace, and with our current practice, the next system design will be archaic the day it is introduced.

Why? Because we are focused on yesterday’s problems. We are making inaccurate assumptions. We are not considering technology leapfrogging a known problem. We are looking at an analog television set with a snowy picture, forgetting that analog signals ended June 12, 2009. “Oh wait – let’s get a bigger antennae!” or “Better yet … we can replay shows with a VCR.”

Aaarrrrgggh! Please stop. If your suggestions for the future of services in Colorado sound like this, please push back from the table and quietly leave the room now. We can do better.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to officially introduce the members of the 2016-2017 Imagine! Leadership Development Group (LDG). This year’s LDG members are (from left to right in the picture below):


Kathryn Craig – Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for Imagine! Behavioral Health Services

Jessica Gaylord – Program Coordinator for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department

Cameron Navis – Site Supervisor for Imagine!’s Innovations department

Alicia Burdick – Lead Case Manager for Imagine!’s Case Management department

MacKenzie Haering – Case Management Supervisor for Imagine!’s Case Management department

The purpose of Imagine!’s Leadership Development program is to provide a coordinated platform that strategically develops talent within Imagine! to address the company’s leadership needs for the future. The program is designed to educate employee participants about the complexities of the organization and to assist management in learning about people with talent that may be good matches for leadership roles.

Each participant in the LDG will gain a broad understanding of leadership skills and be provided the opportunity to apply their learning in various settings. Each participant will assess their present strengths and areas for growth and realize their potential for leadership. Leadership skills and knowledge gained will be applicable in many aspects of the successful participant’s experiences.

The Leadership Development Group will utilize a variety of methods of learning during the course of the year. These methods will include opportunities for self-study, facilitated group meetings, attendance at other Imagine! meetings, mentoring, training opportunities, and presentations.

Congratulations to all of this year’s LDG members. I think you will find it to be a very rewarding experience. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and, just as important, to learning from you throughout the year.

Check out the short video below to learn more about Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group.

Can’t see the video? Click here

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Today’s “Technology Tuesday” is both an offering of gratitude and a celebration.

At last week’s meeting of the Imagine! Foundation’s Board of Directors, the assembled Board celebrated the fact that the mortgage for Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome had been paid in full!

 
Imagine! began planning for this home in the early 2000s. The strategy was to create a home that demonstrated how a variety of technologies could be used to increase self-reliance among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and to act as a living laboratory for testing and refining new technologies and to promote the use of those technologies for service for people with I/DD across Imagine!, our state, our nation, and even internationally.

This was the first such home in the nation, and the Imagine! Foundation Board of Directors committed itself to ensuring that the home was paid for entirely through donations and grants. An ambitious fundraising campaign was launched in 2005, and now, a little more than a decade later, that promise from the Board to fully support the project has come to fruition, and the home is completely paid off.

The promise of the SmartHome is being realized as well. Early studies demonstrated that the use of technology at the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome resulted in a large increase in residents’ perception of their control over their own lives and positive increases among residents including: feeling safer in their new home, feeling respected by others around them, number of personal relationships, and access to resources the residents felt they needed. 

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Though the home was proven to be a successful first step in bringing technology to the forefront of services for people with I/DD, it was only the first step in Imagine!'s strategy. In addition to building a second SmartHome in Longmont, the Charles Family SmartHome, Imagine! has also continually moved forward with the second phase of the project – acting as “tech evangelists” for our field. Thousands of individuals have toured both of Imagine!’s SmartHomes to see first-hand how technology is changing the lives of people with a variety of disabilities. Imagine! staff members have presented on the SmartHomes and technology use across the country. We are constantly embracing new opportunities to demonstrate technology use and the possibilities it has for creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

None of this would have been possible without the generous support and commitment of the many individual donors, corporate donors, grant organizations, and government entities that provided the funding for the creation of our first SmartHome.

We thank you all for your demonstrated belief in the potential of all. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to share news about a fantastic local company that is supporting Imagine!.

BCinteriors, Boulder’s largest office furniture store, is hosting an Inventory Clearance Sale from September 23 through September 30, with a portion of the sales going to support Imagine!’s mission.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

The good folks at BCinteriors have really gone above and beyond in their support of Imagine! – they even co-branded their website as part of their promotion of the sale. Check it out here.

So if you or your organization is in need of an office furniture update, the week of September 23 is a great time to do so, while supporting a world of opportunity for all abilities at the same time.

Many thanks to Chris Mabbitt and his team at BCinteriors. We are so appreciative of your support!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fantastic Five - Celebrating Five Years Of Volunteers At Imagine!: Patrick McCue

Imagine!’s Volunteer Program officially began five years ago (of course, we had volunteers before, but it was a loosely organized effort).

To celebrate five years of volunteerism at Imagine!, I am sharing on my blog short videos highlighting five volunteers who have truly made a difference at Imagine!. Of course, choosing just five volunteers was very difficult – last year 379 volunteers donated 8,784 hours of their time to support Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities!

We are grateful to them all, and hope that the five we highlight serve as a great representation of the many generous folks who so kindly give back to their communities.

Today’s video features our second volunteer highlight: Patrick McCue, who volunteers for Imagine!’s Out & About department. Thanks Patrick, for all you do for Imagine!.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Paralympics Pondering

Earlier this week, I returned from an invigorating vacation in Ireland (along with a few other stops on the way). It was an amazing experience, and I have enough stories to make up several months’ worth of blog posts.

But I won’t do that to my readers. I’ll try to keep the stories to a minimum, unless, of course, I can make them relate to the field of serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

And lo and behold, here’s one!

One of the surprising simple pleasures of my trip was the amount of time I spent listening to BBC Radio. As you may know, BBC Radio has several stations dedicated to a variety of interests, including of course news and music.

Can't see the video? Click here

I mainly listened to the news broadcasts. I was especially impressed by their in-depth exploration of a news topic – often they would spend ½ hour or more discussing a single issue or news item – quite a change from most of the American media landscape. And of course, hearing the news delivered with a British accent made it seem all the more intelligent and highbrow (I confess, however, that I couldn’t make heads or tails of the BBC Gaelic station, though I enjoyed trying).

One of the long, complex stories I listened to was one about the Paralympic Games, which were held in Rio immediately following the Olympic Games. The piece covered many topics related to the Paralympics, but one trend ran throughout the entire story: most Paralympic athletes believe the time is coming when there won’t be a separate Paralympic games. Instead, the athletes argue, Paralympic events will eventually simply become part of the Olympic Games.

I fully believe that this will happen, and I am fully in support of it happening sooner rather than later. So much of what we do at Imagine! is an attempt to move away from a mentality of separation. We don’t believe that just because a person has an I/DD that they should be relegated to separate status when it comes to basics like education, healthcare, transportation, or housing. We want to eliminate the barriers that prevent those we serve from fully participating in their communities.

A single Olympic Games incorporating Paralympic events would be a powerful symbolic step forward in world-wide recognition that people of all abilities can, and do, contribute mightily to the creation of healthy and vibrant communities. It would contribute to more acceptance of the idea that athletes, and in fact all human beings, are best defined by their achievements rather than by what others may perceive as a disability.

The closer we get to this ideal of inclusivity, the closer we get to where communities embrace all abilities and offer everyone the opportunity to contribute, no matter what the setting, the better off we will all be.

Then again, what do I know?