Friday, August 17, 2018

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to thank Imagine! CORE/Labor Source business partner InClover for helping us to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. The video shows how this partnership is mutually beneficial and a win for Imagine!, InClover, and especially the people we serve.
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

If You Aren’t First, You’re …

Last month, I learned that state of Ohio became the first state in our nation to establish an official “Technology First” initiative, with a goal that “citizens with developmental disabilities be afforded the opportunity to improve their lives through supportive technology.”

I applaud Ohio for this forward thinking, but I can’t help but wonder … why wasn’t Colorado the first state to do so?

The environment in our state is so perfect for reimagining how we can use technology to deliver services to our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Think about it.

Colorado is home to the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, which works to catalyze and integrate advances in technology that promote the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities and their families. The Coleman Institute is also the force behind the official declaration of “The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access.”

Colorado is also home to Families at the Forefront of Technology, a “community where individuals, families, and providers come together to advance and enable technology for people with special needs.”

And I feel very justified in adding Imagine! and the work we do to the list of reasons why Colorado should have been the logical choice for Colorado to be the first state to adopt a technology first approach to I/DD services. In the past two decades, we’ve:

I could easily list more. And yet, Colorado has so far failed to officially recognize the idea that technology offers some of the best solutions and opportunities for ensuring our friends and neighbors with I/DD can continue to be active, contributing members of their communities.

Now, I don’t believe that if you’re not first, you’re last …



... so I hold out hope that Colorado, and our entire nation, will follow Ohio’s lead.

Who’s with me?

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Good News Friday!


Last month, Imagine!’s Out & About and Dayspring departments received a donation of ten Strider Bikes at the Strider World Cup Championship, held at Boulder’s Central Park.


Not only were the Strider folks incredibly generous with their donation, but Strider CEO Ryan McFarland even helped us load the bikes into our van!

Strider bikes are excellent for helping to teach some of the young children we serve who have physical and developmental disabilities to learn to ride, and to experience the joy and freedom that come with it. We are most appreciative to Strider for their continued generous support of Imagine! and our programs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Technology Tuesday

Imagine!’s website recently debuted two new features: an online Intake Application along with an interactive “Intake Roadmap” explaining the intake process in an easy to understand manner.

While this may seem like a simple undertaking, ensuring that the online application met the myriad of rules, regulations, and requirements for intake in Colorado’s Community Centered Board system meant there were many challenges and roadblocks along the way. But the result will make it easier and less stressful for families and individuals to get started down the path of receiving I/DD services, and that makes the effort so worthwhile. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make this happen!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Out & About department is hosting its Fourth Annual Bike Block Party, sponsored by First National Bank, on August 18th, 11am-3pm, at Erie Community Park. You are invited to join us for what is sure to be a fun and inclusive event.

If you can’t join us but still want to participate, consider sponsoring a rider to help Out & About raise funds to support its efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families by providing positive instruction and community-based services within a therapeutic framework.

Check out the short video below to learn more, and click here to sponsor a rider!




Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Technology Tuesday

Micah uses assistive technology to operate a blender during cooking class at Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source day program. He made pancakes!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Good News Friday!

From August 3-19, at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St in Boulder, Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source program is hosting an art exhibition. See original art in a variety of formats created by amazing Imagine! artists. There will be an opening reception on August 3, 5-7pm, with music and entertainment provided by individuals served by CORE/Labor Source. Hope to see you there!




Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Technology Tuesday


Author, poet, artist, presenter, self-advocate, and good friend of Imagine! Mandy Kretsch will be a member of a presentation panel Thursday, July 26, during Longmont Startup Week. Mandy will be part of a discussion entitled “The Inclusive Aspects of Multi-Generational Entrepreneurship.”

Techstars Startup Week is more than a conference, it’s a celebration. Startup Week brings entrepreneurs, local leaders, and friends together over five days to build momentum and opportunity around our community’s unique entrepreneurial identity.

The theme for Longmont Startup Week 2018 is “Smarter. Together.” Events and content throughout the week will focus on creators, commerce, capital, and community and will highlight Longmont as an entrepreneurial ecosystem for civic innovation. They are also focusing on diversity and have worked hard to include people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

All events are FREE to attend and provide outstanding learning and networking opportunities, so you are encouraged to attend and support Mandy.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Haircuts and Homogenization

If you join the US Army, you will be required to get a regulation haircut, even if you are the king of rock and roll.
 

The official explanation for the required short hair is that it makes it easier for soldiers to put on their gas masks. But an important underlying reason is to break down an individual soldier’s identity and impart the idea that the soldier is now part of a team, and indistinguishable from all the other members of the team except when it comes to rank.

That is sound logic for the purpose of the army, which is most effective when it operates as a machine, with every part of the machine working together toward a unified goal.

Applying that one-size-fits-all mentality to other aspects of life can be dangerous, however, and I fear that is where we are heading with the delivery of services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

As regulations increase, we find that the options for people to find the services that best fit their needs, goals, and desires, shrink in proportion. This pattern has repeated itself over and over, especially during the last decade.

The thing is, people with I/DD aren’t one monolithic group with the exact same needs. This isn’t the army, and we’re not trying to create a machine. Quite the opposite. If you’ve met one person with an I/DD, you’ve met one person with an I/DD. Like all of us, every person with I/DD has his or her own set of needs, goals, and desires, and the best way to provide services is to have as much flexibility as possible so we can adjust to those unique needs, goals, and desires.

This isn’t some outlandish pipe dream I’m proposing. It can and has worked in the past. Right here at Imagine!, from our Autism Spectrum Disorder Program to our participation in a WaiverMarket pilot project, we have lots of data and evidence indicating that putting the decision making into the hands of families and people in services brings better outcomes. And it actually costs less than our current top heavy, heavily regulated system.

So let’s stop acting like every person with I/DD is exactly the same. We’re not the army dishing out short haircuts. We’re working to provide individuals real opportunities to become active, participating members of their communities. That takes flexibility, not rigidity.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Good News Friday!

The short video below discusses Hanen classes taught by Imagine! Dayspring therapists.
 

Learn more here

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Technology Tuesday

Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome yesterday: new Imagine! Foundation Board member Meg McCellan and her husband Jim Barlow.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Out & About and Dayspring departments will be receiving a donation of ten Strider Bikes at the Strider World Cup Championship on July 20 at 6 PM, Central Park/Boulder Civic Area. The bikes are excellent for helping to teach some of the young children we serve to learn to ride and experience the joy and freedom that come with it, and we are most appreciative to Strider for their continued generous support of Imagine! and our programs.

You are invited to join us for an evening of fun. More details below.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Good News Friday!

I recently shared my experience of running my very first triathlon. I'm not the only Imagine! employee triathlete, however. Below is a story originally posted on our Imagine! Voices blog about the woman who first planted the seed in my mind, making me consider taking on this significant challenge. I love the story and it deserves to be shared. Heather is an inspiration. Please enjoy.

The IRONMAN triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. “No way” is a common response when talking about this race. Or, “why?” Why put your body through that for 15 straight hours, let alone all the training leading up to it? These are valid questions given the toll it takes on the body. Heather Forsyth, an Imagine! employee in our Early Intervention department, has a valid answer.

“When I turned 40, I was not in good health. I was not eating well and exhausted all the time,” said Heather. “I thought about my daughter, who has a developmental disability and was in high school at the time, and realized I needed to take better care of myself so I can be around to take care of her.” Heather started going to the gym and joined local exercise groups. She raced her first triathlon (sprint) in 2010. “It rekindled my love for running and being outside.” She kept it going and joined another fitness group in Boulder, whose members participated in longer races, and found herself doing the same: half marathons, marathons, and then the half Ironman.

“Then I said to myself, ‘you know what?’ Yeah, I want to do an Ironman.’”

She completed her first Ironman in summer of 2015. “It was my dream race and everything went as planned. I finished and was smiling ear to ear the entire time.”

Heather’s next two Ironmans did not have the same fairytale storyline. In 2016, she was injured during the swim, accidentally kicked by another swimmer, which made for a painful race. “I barely finished.”

In 2018, training season became tough as Heather’s life turned upside down. Her mother was back and forth in the hospital over the course of a year, and sadly passed away last November. To start the New Year, her daughter Meredith experienced a group of seizures in late January. And to top things off, in April, the main sewer line backed up into their condo and flooded the unit, completely damaging the tile, carpet, and bathroom fixtures.

“I thought about dropping out of the race.”

Heather approached her coaches, unsure of the race, and had a serious look on her face. One of her coaches suggested that it could still be done if she just tries to have fun. “You’re doing this for fun, right?” her coach asked.

“That’s when I realized I was letting everything in my life make the race NOT fun, but I do these races to help my life.” In refocusing her attitude, Heather began having fun again and committed to the June 10 race.

Race day arrived. The swim was peaceful and beautiful. She enjoyed the calm water and cool temperatures to start the day. On the bike, conditions were not so favorable. The temperature reached a high of 101 degrees and there was an 18% dropout rate for bikers being defeated by the dry climate.

“It was total carnage, people on the side of the road, barfing, being picked up by medics. You had to play it safe and ride at a slower pace.” Heather drank over 300 ounces of fluids on the bike thanks to her Camelback and the water stations. She also dumped a bottle of water over her head at every station. “It was that hot.” Along with the heat, Heather blistered her hand trying to stay upright in the wind, which also slowed her down.

Having entered the run later than she hoped, it became a race against the cutoff time. Because she had to ramp up her training in the last two months, her knee and ankle were sore and her pace per mile dragged.

“Packing in all that training took a toll on my cranky ankle,” she laughs. More than halfway into the run, Heather arrived at a checkpoint past the cutoff time.

With the option to sign a waiver and keep going, she recalled something her mother had once said, “Always remember, I know you love doing this, but make sure you can always do it another day.” With both her knee and ankle in pain, she decided to call it quits at mile 15.5 and said to herself, “I’ll be back.”

“I’m never going to be fast enough to be on a podium. I’m competing against myself and trying to better myself. It’s not always about time.”

With another Ironman in the books, Heather answers the inevitable question, “why?”

“It gives me time to think through things and work out the rest of my life.” Heather lets out a laugh, “When I have a race on calendar, our family’s life is so much more organized. No race, not so organized. Training brings me a sense of peace and calm that I can’t get anywhere else. It makes me a better person, a better mom, better wife, better worker.”

Heather admits that prior to joining fitness and exercise groups back in 2010, she and her husband isolated themselves socially and did not have many friends. “I met this whole group of people through training that created a social outlet that I haven’t had for about 15 years.”  Outside of training, their families get together for camping trips and other gatherings. Heather’s friends now go out of their way to hang out with Meredith so that Heather can get a training or race in. “It’s been a wonderful thing.”

Why do something so challenging and time consuming? Heather asked herself the same question several years ago and in turn, found her sweet spot. “I’m in phenomenal shape, I feel better, I have more energy. There are so many pluses.” Not to mention lifelong friends and the infinite supply of life lessons. In a way, the Ironman race ended up being the answer to all that she hoped for.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lessons Learned From An Ironman – Part II

I have already shared one of my key takeaways from my IRONMAN 140.6 Boulder experience that I believe can be applied to our work at Imagine!. Today I’d to share another takeaway, and I’ll start with the video that got me started in the first place:
 

The video was sent to me in January, right after I committed to a coach and formal training, to get me inspired and moving down the correct path. It worked. The video made it clear that accomplishing something as difficult and challenging as an Ironman started with establishing the idea that the difficult thing could in fact be accomplished. Even if my goal of completing the race seemed extraordinary, I believed it could be done, made it public that I planned to do it, and set out on a course to make it happen.

I think we need to take more of that approach when considering how we create opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). It is far too easy to assume that some of the individuals we serve can’t do ordinary things, let alone extraordinary things, and far too often we design our services with expectations that are way too low.

I think we need to be bolder when we’re considering what people with I/DD can accomplish, and raise our own expectations. I am proud of my Ironman experience, but to be clear, it wasn’t an impossible task. It was difficult, and it took planning and training and discipline and hard work, but it wasn’t out of reach for me and my fellow racers.

Why can’t we look at services the same way? Start out by establishing that we want the people we serve to do the extraordinary, and put it out there that they in fact can, and will, do the extraordinary with the right supports. Then, working together with the individual and his or her support team, do the planning, training, sacrificing, and hard work to make the extraordinary a reality.

I understand that this approach isn’t easy, but lyrics from the song featured in the video above (and again in the video below) really hit home for me: “You can run the mile/You can walk straight through hell with a smile.
 

I ran much of my race with a smile, even though it was difficult and occasionally painful, because I knew that the end result would be so meaningful. There’s no reason we can’t do the same when we are working to create a world of opportunities for abilities, and opening doors to self-reliance and true community participation. Even if it is difficult and intermittently painful, we can do it with a smile because we know if we succeed we will be accomplishing something extraordinary. We’re selling ourselves and our communities short if we don’t do everything we can to reach for the amazing and unexpected possibilities that exist for people with I/DD.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Good News Friday!


David Park is entering his senior year at Monarch High School this fall, and is also on the verge of receiving his Eagle Scout Rank through the Boy Scouts of America. To achieve this rank, every Scout must complete a service project, and David chose to partner with Imagine! for his project.

David’s sister, Gina, has been receiving services from Imagine! for over a decade. “Imagine! has given so much to Gina and our family that I wanted to give back,” said David. “They provided a platform to help Gina and that really struck a chord with me. She learned how to express her emotions better, helping us understand her needs.”

Imagine! provided Gina and her family a platform, and in turn, David literally provided Imagine! a platform by way of a refurbished second level deck at the Boulder CORE/Labor Source (CLS) site. After several meetings and a year of collaboration, David felt this was his best way of giving back.

“My Scout Master suggested that this project would be too big and he recommended I pick something else. But I saw how badly it needed repair and felt that it would have the biggest impact on services at Imagine!.” David recruited a total of 20 boy scouts and parents to help out.

“It was a labor of love on David’s part,” said Jeff Rodarti, CLS Coordinator.

David and his crew stripped the old and rusted baseboards and fencing, then CLS staff members gutted the mud and junk that was resting underneath the boards. The next three weekends involved all the construction and assembly. One weekend, David and his dad built and installed the railing on their own.

After four full weekends of hard work, David and his volunteers finished a job that was predicted to be too big of a task. David and Jeff Rodarti were determined to see this project through, putting in countless hours of preparation and labor.

“We are very grateful to David for his time and effort,” said Rodarti. “Not only was the old deck an eyesore, but it was slowly becoming a safety risk.” The counselors have already taken advantage of the new space, using it to complete documentation or make phone calls. The coordinators plan to schedule staff development activities on the new deck as well.

"If feels great to see the project finished," said David. "I learned how to be more flexible and that not everything will work out as planned." David has only a few merit badges to go before receiving his Eagle Scout Rank. "The hard part is over." The endless hours of planning and constructing are in the books, and Imagine! is grateful for his service.    




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Systemic Hypocrisy

I think we can all agree that we’re living in a very unusual and contentious era in our country’s history. One indicator of the level of anger can be measured by the accusations of hypocrisy coming from both sides of the political arena, each directed at the other side.

This post isn’t about those charges of political hypocrisy. However it does make an interesting backdrop for today’s subject.

I’d like to talk about what I have come to see as systemic hypocrisy in the field of providing services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). I use the term systemic hypocrisy because I don’t believe it is driven by any one person, but instead, by a system that fails to recognize a clear contradiction in what we understand is our shared vision and the way we go about realizing that vision.

Our training requirements are massive – we do all sorts of background checks and training for our employees and volunteers, a good deal of it mandated by the State. And a good deal of those mandates don’t come with funds to cover their costs. Our reporting requirements are equally large and burdensome. Now, you may be reading this and thinking “sure, but it keeps the people we serve safe” or “it’s the only way to entrust Medicaid expenditure.” But here’s where the systemic hypocrisy comes in.

When we talk to families and the people we serve about what they want, one overriding theme comes up again and again: they want to be treated like everyone else. They want to be part of their neighborhoods. They want to engage with friends and families; contribute, shop, worship, explore, and learn just like everyone else. Heaven forbid a person engaging anyone who hasn’t had a background check, or received hours of training in how to react and report about their specific interaction – down to the 15-minute interval.

Unfortunately, so much of the training we provide, and so many of the regulations we operate under, are about what we can’t do. Those can’t dos add up after a while, and the result is fewer opportunities for the individuals we serve to become active, contributing members of their communities.

The hypocrisy is that most people in our field would absolutely agree that the vision we have is natural community membership; living in a neighborhood where people look out for one another, having a career, building relationships and establishing a legacy. How does this happen when our system has lifted the incredible regulatory environment of institutional settings from generations ago, and then dropped that same environment into our very neighborhoods. Who thinks like this?

But here’s the thing - heavy regulations and full community participation just don’t go together, and I believe it is hypocritical to ignore that basic fact of life in our field. We work with people who often have a difficult time understanding and communicating, and families who are overburdened and stressed. Instead of making a easier path for them, or for the organizations supporting them, we have layers and layers of rules, regulations, and bureaucracies that make everything more difficult and contradictory than it needs to be.

What do we want in the end? Natural supports helping people with I/DD to live in our neighborhoods, and who are able to work, volunteer, be creative, and contribute to our communities. Despite our best efforts, we have systemic hypocrisy which severely hampers our efforts to bring our shared vision to life.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Good News Friday!

Ian, who receives services from Imagine!, is a very talented artist. With the support of Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department, Ian takes a unique approach to his art. He starts with a white canvas. He chooses colors using an iPad and CLS staff members mix the color into a spray bottle. Ian fills all the white space, emptying bottle after bottle. Once the canvas is full of color, he adds texture by spraying splashes of gold, silver, and other bright colors. What’s with the hazmat suit, you may ask? Once the spray and squirt bottles became Ian’s tools of choice, the suit, goggles, and tarps granted him the freedom to be as creative (and messy) as he wanted to be.

Check out the time lapse video below to see Ian in action.
 

If you are interested in seeing more great art by individuals served by Imagine!, visit our Etsy page: etsy.com/people/ImagineColorado 

And learn more about Ian from this article from the Longmont Times-Call.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lesson Learned From An Ironman

Two Sundays ago, I completed the IRONMAN 140.6 Boulder.

The entire experience, from the very first days of training to the moment I crossed the finish line, was rich in lessons and takeaways that I believe can be applied to other aspects of my life. Today I’d like to share one of those lessons.

As soon as I began the process of training, I was surprised to discover the degree to which planning ahead was necessary. Diet planning, equipment, advice, training schedules, figuring out how to find the time to get workouts in while juggling work and family requirements. I was very consistent with sticking to the plans because that was the likely path to success.

But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and my Ironman experience was no different. Leading up to the race, I experienced leg issues that at points made me wonder if I would be able to compete at all. Even worse, about four days before the race, the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be hot. Like, Colorado State record-breaking hot.

So as race day loomed, a lot of my planning went out the window and I had to adjust. I started slamming fluids (the healthy kind) at a much higher rate then I initially would have been drinking. I increased my salt intake as well, all to make sure my body was ready for the heat. Once the race started, and the weather forecast was proven correct, I made sure that I stopped at each water/food/aid station and replenished my fluids, as well as pouring a generous amount of water over my head each time and throwing ice cubes down my back to manage core body temperature. My initial plan to skip some of the stations to get a better overall finishing time went out the window.

Much of the race itself felt like a modification of my initial planning as well. My leg had never quite healed, so during the marathon I ran at a pace and a gait designed to minimize the pain but were not conducive to meeting my planned finish. When confronted with the question at mile 10, “How are you doing?” My response was, “I’m managing.” During the bike portion, especially, I was hyperaware of any signs of cramping and had salt products and electrolytes at the ready to ward off the cramps.

These adjustments worked, and I finished smiling, weary and uncomfortable but all in one piece. The experience exceeded my overall expectations.


When I reflect on the days leading up to the race and the race itself, I am aware that so much of what I was doing was “management.” Things didn’t go as planned, and adjustments were necessary for success. And I realized, to a degree that I hadn’t quite appreciated before, how much “management” means being able to adjust to new and unexpected circumstances.

The same is true at Imagine!, of course. If everything always went to plan, we wouldn’t have much need for managers. Planners, yes, but managers, no. Obviously things don’t always go to plan, despite our best intentions. Furthermore, so much of what impacts our work is out of our control (rates, rules and regulations, for just a couple of examples), making it absolutely vital that we have managers in place who are skilled at adjusting on the fly to new and unforeseen challenges and roadblocks. Those are the finer elements of management.

So today I offer a tip of the hat to those managers and supervisors at Imagine! who consciously and unconsciously embrace this key aspect of their roles at our organization, and pledge to support them as they adjust and manage while working to meet our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Good News Friday!

Imagine! is a large and geographically dispersed organization, so it can take extra effort to ensure that we are supporting our employees in succeeding at their work and celebrating them in the way they deserve. Below are three recent examples of those efforts.


Imagine!’s Out & About Summer Camp and Summer Catalog 2018 has officially begun. We have a record breaking 42 qualified instructors and five interns ready and excited to go! To make sure the new staff members got started on the right foot, Out & About hosted a multi-day training and orientation, including a “Trust Run,” which, as the video below demonstrates, generated many smiles and much laughter.
   
_________________


Every month, Imagine! Behavior Therapist Jonny Brennan organizes a voluntary "rapport" meeting for the staff members at Imagine!'s Longmont CORE/Labor Source site. "It's a place to blow off steam, laugh, and pick each others' brains about techniques and tips to help each of our individuals be successful. These meetings are not mandatory at all, but as you can see, staff still dedicate extra time to the betterment of our 'family' because they know our clients deserve that dedication and support." 
________________________


And finally, earlier this week Imagine! hosted a summer party coinciding with a Boulder recreational league softball game featuring the Team Imagine! squad. Imagine! fans packed the bleachers, waving their pennants and cheering on the team in what turned out to be an epic, extra inning, come from behind victory by the gang in grey and green!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Technology Tuesday

The good folks at Misty Robotics recently shot a short video at Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont discussing the possibilities that robotics can bring to home health care situations. The video also features our good friend Geoff Cooper, CEO of Carasolva.
 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Good News Friday!

This is one of my favorite posts I get to make each year. Earlier this week, outside of Imagine!’s Dixons St. building, a group of kids and parents were allowed to embrace the sloppy side of life in the name of learning, courtesy of Messy Play Day.

What is Messy Play Day? Messy Play Day is one of Imagine!'s Dayspring department's Community Calendar Activities (CCAs). CCAs introduce young children with developmental delays and disabilities to places in our community that offer great activities and opportunities for children to meet their goals through fun and play. All activities encourage motor, sensory, social-emotional, cognitive, and speech-language development.

Messy Play Day is designed to introduce new sensory experiences to the children in a safe and comfortable environment. Learning occurs as children touch, manipulate, experiment, and talk about things, while interacting with people who facilitate without directing.

But the paragraphs above are just words. Take a look at the pictures below of some of the Messy Play Day sensory activities to see what the words look like in action.










Thursday, June 7, 2018

Good News Friday Everyday

Here’s a quick quiz for you: In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has:

A) Almost doubled 
B) Remained more or less the same 
C) Almost halved

The correct answer is C. That’s right, in just the past 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in the world has almost halved.

But I bet a lot of you didn’t give that answer. I’m making that bet not because I’m Nostradamus, but because I have recently been introduced to the work of Hans Rosling. Rosling was a Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker, and one of the things he focused on in his later career was using statistics to argue that the world is, in many ways, better than we think.

Here are a couple of TED Talks by Rosling that show how great he was at spreading his message of well-documented positivity:




If you aren’t able to watch the videos, here’s some facts that may surprise you: Over time, the world has seen substantial increases in key indicators of progress such as: literacy, democracy, women’s right to vote, immunizations, and my favorite, guitars per capita.

Meanwhile, the world has seen decreases in: oil spills, plane crash deaths, deaths from disaster, ozone depletion, and hunger, to name just a few.

Those are incontrovertible facts backed by mountains of data. And yet, many of us, myself included, can have trouble believing they are true. Furthermore, we tend to have a very pessimistic and dim view of the world and the progress we are making facing our biggest challenges.

Why do we have such a hard time believing things are getting better? Rosling argues there are multiple reasons:
  • Humans have an instinct to notice the bad more than the good, 
  • we tend to romanticize the past and feel that things aren’t as good as they used to be, and 
  • we are subjected to never-ending cascades of negative news from across the world. 
I can’t do much about the first two factors listed above, but today, I’d like to do my small part to address the third bullet above, at least when it comes to services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

I’m motivated to change some ideas at least in part because I recognize that I often use this blog to point out some of the aspects of those services that aren’t so great. I don’t apologize for that, as we can always do better, but I do want to acknowledge the amazing progress we’ve made. So here goes:
  • Between 1977 and 2010, the number of residential settings that served people with I/DD increased by a remarkable 1,598 percent, with most of these new settings being small and privately operated. 
  • In the same date range, the number of home and community-based services recipients outpaced residents receiving specialized Medicaid licensed intermediate care facilities (ICFs/IID) by 676.1%, while the number of people receiving ICFs/IID care decreased by 63 percent. 
  • The number of people with developmental disabilities in public institutions declined from 149,892 in 1977 to 51,485 in 1999. 
  • Ninety percent of individuals with I/DD now live in a setting with 15 or fewer people, 75 percent of which reside in settings of six or fewer residents and 49 percent in settings of three or fewer residents. 
What good news stats about how the lives of our fellow citizens with I/DD have improved over the last 50 years? Feel free to share them.

If you’d like to learn more, the links below help provide stats and background for this post.

https://mn.gov/mnddc/parallels2/pdf/00s/00/00-DPD-NCS.pdf 
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2014/07/16/people-as-pendulums-institutions-and-people-with-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities/ 
http://www.ancor.org/sites/default/files/news/gwu_residential_report.pdf 
http://mn.gov/mnddc/parallels/  
http://gotoipmg.com/images/body-images/Lessons_Learned_From_History.PDW.01.16.2015.pdf  
https://www.amazon.com/Factfulness-Reasons-World-Things-Better/dp/1250107814

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Technology Tuesday


The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) has teamed up with Imagine! to present a webinar highlighting our long and fruitful collaboration with the University of Colorado’s School of Engineering. Details from ANCOR are below.

Partnering with Universities for Individualized I/DD Tech Solutions 
Wednesday, June 13 1:00pm - 2:00pm, ET 

Universities can be an invaluable resource for providers. From professors to laboratories to students eager to innovate, universities offer a culture of critical thought that can aid providers and the person with I/DD they support. Don't know where to start? Learn how to partner with them during this webinar!

Imagine!, a private service provider in Lafayette, CO, cultivated a thriving partnership with the University of Colorado to provide person-centered technology solutions for use by the individuals that receive supports and services at Imagine!. Through this partnership, University of Colorado engineering students collaborate with Imagine! to create inexpensive, technology solutions that address everyday challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Presenters from Imagine! and the University of Colorado will share their experiences in creating this partnership, their lessons learned, and ideas on how you can create similar collaborations with local universities in your communities. A recording will be made available for registrants.

Presenters: 
Fred Hobbs, Director of Public Relations, Imagine!
Melinda Piket-May, PhD., University of Colorado
Brodie Schulze, DSP, Imagine!

Registration:
ANCOR member: $29 Non-member: $109

Friday, June 1, 2018

Good News Friday!

Participants of Imagine!’s Out & About adult program set a goal to walk a 5k, and spent all spring training for it. Every Thursday morning, the group spent time training and preparing for the race.

On the final Thursday before race day, they hosted a car wash to raise funds to pay for the registration fees. Bringing in over $350, their fundraising efforts paid for nearly the full cost.

Race day was a blast! It was a rainy and muddy morning, but everyone accomplished their goal. The event was full of smiles, hard work, rain jackets, pizza, slimy mud, and lots of fun! Congratulations to all the racers for crossing the finish line!













Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thanks Colette


Today I’d like to bid a fond farewell to Colette Marie, who is leaving Imagine! to pursue new opportunities in the Pacific northwest.

There is no measuring stick large enough that can capture Colette’s impact on Imagine!. In her 30 plus years at Imagine!, Colette worked for both our community employment and for our residential programs, and when parents challenged Imagine! to create a community-based program for school aged children outside of what the school districts were providing, Colette stepped up to the plate and built Imagine!’s Out & About program from scratch. Out & About remains a unique program in our state, and the many families, children, and adults who have learned life changing skills through the program have Colette to thank for that opportunity.

I share this news with mixed feelings because while I am happy that Colette is moving into the next phase of her life and comfortable in the knowledge that the difference she has made in the lives of local citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities is enormous, I am sad that she is leaving, because her strength, grace, intelligence, humor, and commitment to our organization and the people we serve will be sorely missed.

Thank you, Colette, for all that you have done for Imagine!, and good luck!

To learn more about Colette’s contributions to Imagine! and the birth of Out & About, click here.

If you'd like to pay it forward and make a donation in honor of Colette to support Out & About, click here.

And check out this video to hear from Colette and one family whose lives were made better by her work:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Good News Friday!

Thanks to University of Colorado Leadership Studies Minor students Mackenzie Arena, Soren Fuchs, Lindsey Allen, Brooke Bower, and Jonah Yaden for their hard work on a Leadership Challenge Project to help support Imagine!’s Out & About department in their efforts to promote active community involvement for people who experience cognitive and developmental disabilities. The presented to the Out & About team earlier this month, and their fresh insight and thoughtful suggestions were very well received.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Meet The Newest Imagine! Foundation Board Members

Today, I’d like to welcome the newest members of the Imagine! Foundation Board of Directors. 


Courtney Gimeno, Business Banking Relationship Manager, Elevations Credit Union


Meg McClellan, Chief Legal Officer, UCAR 


Zoe Polk, Store Manager, Pedestrian Corporation 


Ed Wassom, Sunrise Eagle Ranch, LLC 

The four met last week with Foundation Board President Don Brown and Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin for orientation, and they hit the ground running! I am so grateful that they are willing to offer their time, service and efforts toward helping the Imagine! Foundation support Imagine!’s mission.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Good News Friday!


Our generous friends at McGuckin Hardware have set aside the dates of May 18 – May 27 to help support the Imagine! Foundation and our mission of creating a world of opportunities for all abilities.

During that time period, shoppers are encouraged to round up their bill at the cash registers, with the extra portion going to the Imagine! Foundation.

We thank McGuckin Hardware for their commitment to their community, and we invite you all to visit the most amazing hardware store you’ll ever see and help local citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the same time.