Friday, July 29, 2016

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Out & About department, which provides recreational services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Boulder and Broomfield counties, is hosting a “Bike Block Party” at Superior’s Purple Park on August 13 from 11:30-2:30.

The purpose of the Bike Block Party is to introduce the community to the many biking options that exist for people with a variety of disabilities. Some of their partners for this event include the National Sports Center for the Disabled (who are providing a number of hand-cycles), Rocky Mountain Recumbents (who are providing a number of recumbent cycles), and Strider Bike (who are providing a variety of Balance Bikes).

In addition to opportunities for people to take test rides on the bikes, there will food, lawn games, face painting, and much more.

There is no charge to attend, but donations are welcomed.

I hope you can attend. I believe it will be a great example of our community coming together to support recreation options for all of our citizens.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Change Would Do You Good

I wrote about change on this blog recently. Change is still on my mind, and my thoughts on change have changed slightly. But only slightly.

In the post I linked above, I stated that I found the resistance to change in the field of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be baffling. Well, I’m going to amend that a little. Upon further reflection, I can see why resistance to change can be so strong.

The work we do is very difficult. From Direct Support Professionals who do the front line work of providing services to the administrative staff members who try to make sure all the paperwork (and it is a lot of paperwork) is done correctly, this field can challenge you both physically and mentally.

And as if the jobs themselves aren’t difficult enough, the environment in which we operate is under a continual cloud of uncertainty. We have to scramble for resources and undefined system reorganization looms ever present (at least here in Colorado). We’re asked to do everything all the time and told to do it using fewer and fewer resources.

So I understand the resistance to change. We’re delivering the daily promise while trying to create a world of new opportunity at the same time, and it can be tiring.

But I am not going to give in to the fatigue. I’m not going to capitulate just because change is hard. I will continue to advocate for sensible, sustainable, well-planned change in our system that results in superior outcomes for those we serve. I will continue to share, with anyone I can, my belief that technology can play a huge role in services, and that right now those possibilities are being criminally underexplored.

I am confident that my fellow Imagine! employees will follow me in leading this charge. We aren’t afraid to be the ones going first and demonstrating for others the benefits that thoughtful change can bring. We’ve done it before, we’re doing it now, and we will continue to do it in the future.

Then again, what do I know?

  Can't see the video? Click here

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Imagine! had a great opportunity last week to share information about one of our technology initiatives with US Congressman Jared Polis. Representative Polis visited Imagine! and met with Gale Boonstra and me to discuss Aaron’s Fund and Imagine!’s Tuneberg Remote Supports Project. Also joining the discussion was Jennifer Shriver, Development Director of Community Cycles, another fantastic organization supported in part by Aaron’s Fund.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who donated to Imagine! during the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016). During that time period, 777 donors gave more than $630,000!

Donors included individuals, corporations, service organizations, foundations, and Imagine! employees. No matter the category, all of our donors share one thing in common: they believe in the potential of all.

Can't see the video? Click here

My appreciation of your support knows no bounds. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Sometimes being part of the latest trend isn’t a great idea.

More than 50 years ago, families and educators in Colorado began to form organizations designed to offer opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to become fully participating members of their communities. Some of those organizations became Community Centered Boards, such as Imagine! here in Boulder, and some became advocacy organizations, such as the ACL (also here in Boulder).

A key consideration in the development of these organizations was the idea that the organizations would represent and reflect the local communities they served. Communities, like individuals, were (and are) unique, and the range of services and opportunities were designed to mirror the distinctive nature and natural resources of each community.

That system worked, and continues to work, extremely well. As I have pointed out before, the current system of I/DD services in Colorado offers remarkable outcomes despite an inadequate (at best) fiscal effort on the part of the state.

Notwithstanding that success, we are seeing a rapidly increasing move away from the trend of local control. As more federal funding and state requirements creep into service delivery, services have become more homogenized, and fewer controls are in the hands of families.

Furthermore, as funding for services remains flat or even shrinks in respect to a community’s cost of living, the trend we will see is only organizations with economies of scale and controls built to respond to funding regulations will remain viable options to provide services where financial margins can be realized … and not at all where financial margins cannot be realized.

This means multi-state corporations are more and more likely to become the only available providers of services in Colorado. These organizations, some for-profit, some not-for-profit, and some which provide a variety of human services with I/DD being a relatively small portion of their services, may have little need or incentive to pay much attention to any unique characteristics or natural resources of an individual community.

I’m not suggesting in any way that the quality of these larger organizations’ services is in question. Not at all.

I do think, however, it is worth asking some other questions about this trend, such as:

Will this trending away from local control of services mean less choice and customization for people in services?

What will it mean for the long-term support services in communities with higher costs of living? 

Will local funds (mil levies, charitable donations) stay local? 

I don’t have all the answers to these questions. At the same time, I don’t hear enough dialog about the questions as the federal and state restrictions and regulations continue on a certain path. That disturbs me greatly as we continue to careen toward homogenization and consolidation without pausing to reflect on some of the unintended consequences.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Imagine!’s commitment to using technology to improve the lives of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities isn’t only about computers and smart phones and bits and bytes. It is about finding (or designing) the tools that help create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Case in point: here’s a picture of Katy using an adaptive brush to paint in an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source (CLS) Art Class.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to invite all of you to attend Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source Annual Art Show and Performance, scheduled for Friday evening, August 12, at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, CO, 80302. The Art Show will begin at 6:00, with the Performance starting at 7:00.

What will you experience if you go?





So mark your calendars for August 12, and I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Throughout Imagine!’s history of exploring how technology can be used to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), we’ve made every effort to reach out to others in the field so we can share information, learn what others are doing, and take advantage of the strengths that can arise through collaboration.

Below are a few recent examples of those efforts.

On Friday, July 8, representatives from Imagine!, North Carolina-based Simply Home, Wisconsin-based Innovative Services, and South Carolina-based Charles Lea Center met to discuss what a 21st organization serving people with disabilities should look like, and what steps are necessary to get there, and what role technology will play in the continuing evolution of services. The group also took a tour of Imagine!'s Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont.

On Monday, July 11, Imagine!’s Director of Business Operations and SmartHome guru Greg Wellems met with Serena Lowe and Zoe Gross from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL). The two ACL reps are working on developing a technical resource for states and providers that provides examples, strategies, and effective practices for providing integrated day services to support individuals to engage fully in their communities. As part of this effort, they are interviewing disability service providers to learn more about best practices in integrated day services provision in the community, as well as state and federal policies or funding structures that may make it easier or more difficult for providers to reach these best practices.

And later this year, Greg will again team up with folks from Simply Home to present at the 2016 ANCOR Technology Summit and Showcase. Here’s a brief description of the presentations:

Empowering Independence: How Imagine! Creates New Outcomes Through SimplyHome 

Technological solutions are critical to the success of virtually every enterprise. When we look at the challenges facing the future of supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there is an increasing understanding that technology will be a fundamental component toward supporting a person centered life in the community. Working together, SimplyHome and Imagine! are blending technology with natural support systems to support successful outcomes. 

The session will overview SimplyHome’s support solutions and Imagine!’s processes for incorporating the technology as a core service to better support individuals in the community. This will include sharing the process of referring, assessing and incorporating the identified technology into the individual planning and support process. 

As you can see, Imagine! is continuing its tradition of acting as “technology evangelists” to increase the use of technology in the I/DD field. We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Good News Friday!

Mark your calendars for August 8 for a way to support Imagine! and enjoy a great meal at the same time.

Next Door Boulder will donate 50% of sales to Imagine! from participating tables on Monday, August 8, from 5-9 p.m. They are located at 1035 Pearl Street. Just mention to your server that you're there for the Imagine! Foundation.

Thanks to Next Door Boulder for their generous support of their community and all of its members. I hope to see you all there August 8!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Here’s a picture of Adam, who accepts services from Imagine!, working on his spelling skills using the Osmo app while participating in an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source class.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to share a couple of stories about some high schoolers who are taking time this summer to make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

First, I’d like to give a shout out to the students from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. As part of the Eldorado High Eagle Earth and Reality Project, the students came all the way up to Colorado and volunteered at Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) site in Longmont last month. Fifty students, along with teachers Allison Dunn and Sean Thomas, hosted art, sports, jewelry, and cupcake making stations. They also did a spiffy job cleaning the vehicles that CLS uses in delivering services and supports throughout the community.

Below are a few images captured throughout their day.

Not pictured is the amazing lunch that Project Reality grilled up. Many thanks to the EHS students and teachers for being there and making for such an enjoyable day!

Second, I’d like to share that last Friday, St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD) Innovation Center students and Axel Reitzig, the Innovation Center’s Robotics & Computer Science Coordinator, took a tour of Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome.

The Innovation Center prepares SVVSD students for successful Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers by partnering with industry to provide real world work experiences. The Center’s mission is to match highly-skilled students with business, research and development opportunities, fostering analytical and problem-solving skills, encouraging entrepreneurial ambitions, and creating mentorships with experts in the STEM fields. What better place than our SmartHomes for students to learn first-hand how technology is changing the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

One of the students told us after the tour: “I am extremely grateful for the awesome tour of the house, and I was astounded by the glimpse of the wonderful work you do for the community. It was truly an enlightening experience!”

Many thanks to Imagine! ambassador extraordinaire Leona Stoecker for arranging and helping to host the tour.