Friday, July 28, 2017

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to encourage you to support Imagine!’s Out & About department’s “$20 for 20 Years” crowdfunding campaign, designed to help provide more adaptive equipment and more opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate in structured programs designed to support their needs.
Can’t see the video? Click here. 

Click here to donate, and learn more below.

Imagine!’s Out & About department offers community-based therapeutic recreation services for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The program provides opportunities for people to participate in activities designed to improve social skills, community involvement, and skills that enhance overall quality of life.

Why We Need Your Help

Out & About’s intention is to continue to enrich the quality of service by providing adaptive equipment and opportunities to participate in structured programs designed to support people’s needs. These items will make a huge difference:
  • Purchasing adaptive equipment so participants can swim, create art, play sports, and communicate their needs 
  • Ticket/admission fees for adaptive programs and events 
  • Partnerships with local organizations that provide therapeutic programs such as the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), Adaptive Adventures, and Medicine Horse Adaptive Riding Program 
Some specific examples of what your donation will fund

  • An afternoon of rock climbing with NSCD for one child 
  • An afternoon of paddling with NSCD for one adult 
  • one life jacket for swimming activities 
  • one adaptive paint brush 
  • A day at Water World for five adults 
  • An adaptive horseback riding session for ten participants 
  • one adult wheelchair 
  • A day of adaptive skiing for one participant 
  • A day of snowshoeing for ten participants 
  • five adaptive kayak stabilizers 
  • one adaptive tricycle 
  • five adaptive communication devices 
  • A day of snow tubing for up to 50 people 
All donations will go directly to the Out & About’s children and adult programs. Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.

Click here to donate.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Future Language

Today, I’d like to extend an invitation to my blog readers to look at the future of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) from the Imagine! perspective.

For coming on two decades, Imagine! has preached the gospel of technology, arguing that it holds the key to I/DD services now and moving forward. We’ve gotten some traction in this debate, and have made some headway with our evangelism, but not nearly to the extent that we’d hoped.

Perhaps part of the reason for our struggles with sharing this message with a broader audience lies in the words we have chosen. To be blunt, “technology,” and its cousin “assistive technology,” come up short when trying to describe how we see the future of services.

So I’m making an effort today to be more precise with my language. While I will undoubtedly continue to use the generic “technology” in this blog and elsewhere, I will try to incorporate more specific language when appropriate.

Language such as:

Cognitive Prosthetics: these are devices used as memory or organization aids for people with cognitive challenges. Examples of cognitive prosthetics Imagine! has explored using include task prompters that support employment or assist in activities of daily living.

Artificial Intelligence: the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. An example of how Imagine! is working to incorporate artificial intelligence into our services: our collaboration with the University of Colorado to help “teach” Amazon Echo and Alexa products to understand non-verbal commands so even non-verbal individuals can take advantage of the amazing opportunities for independent action and environmental control these devices bring.

Augmented Reality: a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. The many individuals who are served by (and who work for) Imagine! who enjoy games like Pokemon Go can tell you how Augmented Reality can increase opportunities for community participation.

Virtual Reality: the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. We’ve been exploring incorporating this form of technology into our services from way back in the early days of Wii games.

We have to take the position, a collective movement, to commit an effort to re-imagine a world for people with intellectual disabilities. We can create a world full of opportunity because we embraced the four technologies above. Won’t you join me? Come on … use your imagination!

Then again, what do I know?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 7/26/17

Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

Here’s a recent story from Alexa, a former Out & About employee who says, “The world is a better place when we include everyone and Out & About helps us all realize that.”

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year. You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

I encourage you to visit the page often – there’s a lot more coming!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Imagine! has launched a new data system for the service records of the people that we serve. The new system is Netsmart’s Evolv.

Evolv is an EHR (electronic health record) system with well-designed functionalities for demographic management, service delivery tracking, and reporting. The switch to Evolv from our previous database was made necessary when the previous database no longer met our needs.

Imagine! is a large and incredibly complex organization, and our records reflect that complexity. We need a system to track the records of the people we serve that is able to navigate data, including the huge number of our funding sources and the huge variety of services we provide, all while protecting the personal health information of the 3,500+ individuals whose information we are storing.

No out of the box software was going to fit the bill, so the Imagine! Evolv team spent the better part of a year reworking the software to meet our needs. Even now that we have gone live, the Imagine! Evolv team is continue to work on fixing little issues that have cropped up. For the most part, however, the switchover has been very smooth, and most importantly, the folks we serve have not seen any disruption in their services.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Good News Friday!

Imagine! is a community-based organization, and we’re always happy to go out in to the community to share who we are and what we do. Even more important, we are delighted to share the amazing contributions individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are making in their communities every day.

Below are a few recent examples of Imagine! going out and about.

Michelle and Paula shared information about Imagine!’s Innovations department at this summer's Longmont Pride.

Representatives from Imagine! visited the Longmont Public Library to share volunteer opportunities with local teens.

Imagine! Behavioral Health Services team members Katheryn Craig, BCBA, and Anna Young, BCBA presented a poster at the Applied Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Conference in Denver in May. They shared their experience and research on: “The Use of Signaling Procedures to Increase Participant's Tolerance of Delayed Attention from Caregivers in the Participants Home Environment - A Reflection on Treatment Decisions and Barriers to Treatment Integrity within the Community Environment.”

Our local Centennial Bank hosted a Community Resource Fair in June, and Imagine! was happy to participate.

And finally, Imagine! representatives enjoyed the party atmosphere and shared valuable information with attendees at the Laradon Summer Carnival.

If you’d like to meet up with Imagine! representatives out in the community, here’s a chance to do so while enjoying some great live music: Imagine! will have an information table at Bands On The Bricks on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall next Wednesday, July 26. Thanks to RE/MAX of Boulder for making this happen for us!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Level Up

Recently, Imagine! has been working on changing our approach to performance management and performance evaluation. We have recognized too often at Imagine!, people in supervisory positions in our organization weren’t always given the tools they needed to be successful. So much of our ability to live up to our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities depends on successful supervision, so we knew we had an obligation to try to address that challenge.

I had the opportunity on Tuesday to give a presentation to supervisors at Imagine!, providing some of the philosophy behind our efforts to improve our performance management, and I thought I’d share some of the key points of that presentation here on this blog.

More than anything, we want to give our supervisors the skills and tools they need to become coaches instead of just managers.
  • A good supervisor can step in and replace any person on the team. 
  • A supervisor is the reigning technical expert whose job is not to be wrong, and they can achieve this through technical competence and perfect checking. 
  • That’s not the same as being a coach. 
So to support supervisors in becoming coaches, we need to identify some essential strategies (and this is a good time to give credit where it is due: much of what I’m sharing here is a repurposing of Jim Wood’s book “The Next Level,” one of my favorite books on developing organizational greatness.) Essential strategies for turning supervisors into coaches include:
  • Market intelligence. Supervisors need to know what the environment is like at all times: who are competitors are, what they are doing, and how they are doing it; what are our organizations’ strengths and weaknesses are; what legislative issues may change our landscape, etc. 
  • Strategic Leadership/Strategic Planning. Human service organization are reactive far too often. Supervisors need, with the support of their organization, an understanding of the strategies behind decision-making, business processes, etc. 
  • Internal Infrastructure. If supervisors are to have any chance to become coaches, they can’t spend all of their time on tasks not related to their essential duties. Having a robust internal infrastructure in place, both at the level of the supervisor’s area of responsibility and throughout the organization as a whole, is imperative. 
The most important aspect of turning supervisors into coaches, however, is having a laser sharp clarity of purpose. A supervisor should be able to answer the following questions about the work they do and their area of responsibility:
  • What makes us different from others doing similar stuff? 
  • What are we most proud of? 
  • What are our talents and strengths? 
  • What do we do that others want to benchmark? 
  • How do we make a better life for people? 
  • Why do people choose us rather than others? 
  • How do we create an advantage for people we serve? 
  • What do we want our reputation to be like? 
  • How do we make the world a better place? 
I feel as though I can answer every one of those on behalf of Imagine! and the work we do. I also think most supervisors could do the same if they take a little to think about their answers. And I also think that if a supervisor can answer the questions above, then they already have the capability to be a coach. Knowing those answers puts them in the position to inspire, to challenge, and to offer meaningful and impactful feedback that is optimistic, encouraging, and has tangible corrections for those they supervise.

One example of coaching versus managing that I find especially relevant is one I shared on this blog a while back about Walter Malmquist, a two-time member of the US Olympic Ski team. In the post, Malmquist recollected a story about an assignment he received while still in high school from a ski coach named Jim Page. The assignment was for Walter to write out his goals for his ski career. For Walter, this was a transformational assignment, as it forced him to publicly commit to certain aspirations that had up until then remained unspoken, and therefore existed without any sort of plan as to how to make those aspirations a reality.

Walter noted:

“My coach’s challenge broke the ice which in turn made me think about myself and my aspirations completely differently than I ever had.”
  • my fantasies became my goals... 
  • my goals became consequences of my willingness and ability to confront/commit to address actionable items... 
  • my commitment to address actionable items became my day-to-day tasks... 
  • my day-to-day tasks became actions to record and monitor... 
  • my records became data to evaluate progress toward my goals... 
  • my progress toward my goals became my motivation to set new/better goals... 
  • my new goals became consequences of my willingness/ability to commit to address actionable items . . . 
Anyone at Imagine! can become a coach like Jim Page. So I’m proud of the fact that we are working toward a goal of making that happen – that all of our supervisors have a little bit of Jim Page in them. If we can make that a reality, there’s no telling how much better we can become as an organization (and I already think we’re pretty darn good!).

Then again, what do I know?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Out & About 20 - Story Updates 7/19/17

Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

Here’s a couple of recent stories highlighting businesses who support Out & About.

A skateboarding company from New Jersey was in town recently and took the time to teach some Out & About Summer Campers to skate.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) has hosted a variety of events designed to make the outdoors accessible to people of all abilities.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year. You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

I encourage you to visit the page often – there’s a lot more coming!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Save the Date! 

The 2017 Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities Conference on Cognitive Disabilities and Technology is set for November 2. 

To learn more about the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and the upcoming conference click here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Good News Friday!

50-50 Grind. Casper Flip. Goofy-Foot. Fakie. The Mushroom.

All of these are skateboarding terms, and I have no idea what any one of them means. But do you know who does? Evan Dittig and some lucky participants in Imagine!’s Out & About Summer Camp.

Evan is a program director for “Skate.Now” based out of Wayne, NJ. He offers skate classes and private lessons to individuals of all ages. Every once in a while, Evan travels the country or the world to offer free lessons to groups as a way to give back to the community.

Evan recently connected with Imagine!’s Out & About department and held a class on Monday morning, July 10, at the Lafayette Skate Park. Evan had not facilitated a group this large outside of his home base before, so he contacted organizations and personal connections to get donated skateboards for the Out & About class. In addition, Evan’s cousin, who lives in Colorado, traded in some old hockey sticks at a local sports store for some helmets for class.

Thanks Evan! Everyone had a great time.

Learn more about Evan on the Imagine! Voices Blog.

Here's some fun pictures of the action.

And below is a video of a camper pulling off a "mushroom."

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Over the past 10 years, people have traveled from all over the country, and even from other countries, to tour Imagine!’s SmartHomes and see first-hand how technology is changing the way we can, and should, deliver services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (here’s a few examples of recenttourists.”)

Of course, we understand that not everyone can make the trip to tour the homes in person. That is why a few weeks ago, we hosted a tour live on Facebook, and we’re sharing a video of that tour with you today. It is a bit lengthy, and the camera work isn’t perfect, but if you have the time, watching the video is a great way to learn about all the amazing things happening at the SmartHomes, and how Imagine! is working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Thanks to Chris DiRosa, tour guide extraordinaire, for taking us on this journey.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Neurodiversity and the Workforce

Today I’d like to share a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast I listened to recently that is right up Imagine!’s alley and very timely considering the economy and how businesses are struggling to fill jobs.

The guests on the podcast argue there is a population of highly-talented workers that companies are probably overlooking – neurodiverse people such as those with autism spectrum disorder or other conditions sometimes associated with higher-than-average abilities, like dyslexia, ADHD, and social anxiety disorders. The interviewees make a compelling point about its time for that to change. 

Click here to listen