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.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Good News Friday!

Art plays a key role in so much of what Imagine! does to meet its mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. Here are a couple of examples:

Ian Markiewicz creates original works of art using some very unique methods every Thursday through Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) program. Ian’s work is getting noticed: the Longmont Times-Call recently did a feature story on him!

Check out the story here


And if you’d like to see some of Ian’s work in person, along with a bunch of other CLS artists, they will have their artwork displayed on Saturday, May 19, during ArtWalk Longmont, a free arts festival in downtown Longmont. Join them if you can!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Technology Tuesday

Readers of my blog interested in how technology can (and is) being used to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are encouraged to check out the:


Sat., June 23, 2018 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM 

A "meet and greet" picnic will be held Friday June 22 5PM-8PM at Sayre Park 1702 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 
  • Personal Assistants with Google Home and Amazon Alexa 
  • Behavioral supports with technology 
  • Updates and creative ways to utilize technology with communication 
  • Employment supports 
  • Independent Living 
  • Maintaining Privacy - as we enter more and more into the internet of things 
Conference Location: 
Glenwood Springs Colorado 
815 Cooper Avenue Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 

Families at the Forefront of Technology is honored to bring this event as a recipient of a DIGS grant from The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and additional support from The Arc of Colorado 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Home Is Where ...?

One of the biggest challenges facing providers of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) is the lack of housing available to them. Not everyone with an I/DD is able to live independently, or have family they can live with. The options for those individuals are extremely limited, and continue to dwindle, especially in Colorado. I’ve written about this before.

I recently came across a letter, which you can read below (click on the images to make them larger and more legible), from a large group of interested parties offering one potential solution to this crisis. The letter is addressed to key leaders at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

I’m not sharing this letter as an official endorsement by Imagine!, however, we can endorse the conversation. Imagine! has always been at its best when we have listened to parents and the people we serve offering new ideas and ways of delivering services. We owe it to ourselves as a community to think about our approach to housing individuals with I/DD and explore if there may be ways we can do it better.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.






Friday, May 4, 2018

Good News Friday!

A couple of weeks ago, Girl Scout Troop 3302 honored the Imagine! SmartHome as their “Hometown Heroes” and brought boxes and boxes of scrumptious Girl Scout cookies. They also enjoyed a tour of the home. Thank you girls and your leaders!



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Technology Tuesday

The spring semester is coming to a close, and for us at Imagine!, that means another opportunity to share projects created by University of Colorado Engineering students in a class taught by Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May.

For the past eight years, students in these classes have worked on projects to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for some of the individuals Imagine! serves. This past Saturday, the students presented their projects at the Engineering Projects Expo. Student projects designed to assist individuals served by Imagine! (and others with disabilities) that were debuted at the event included:

Various Interfaces With Smart Home Devices 
Products like Google Home or Amazon Echo and Alexa can use verbal commands to operate any number of household devices or control entertainment options. However, there is still a gap for individuals who are non-verbal, as these devices may not be able to “understand” the commands. Several projects were designed to improve the ability of non-verbal individuals to access these devices.




Automated Wago Opener
Wago products are designed for electronic interfaces. Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department provides staffing for GE Lighting, which uses these Wago products. The device created by the students allows one of the employees who has limited range of motion in his arms to effectively and efficiently open the Wagos at GE, making him a more productive employee.


Panic Button
A low cost alert system to be used in Imagine! group homes or other residences.


Musical Shopping Cart 
Designed for an individual with limited motor skills who is encouraged to push a shopping cart around in order to improve his physical fitness. Since the individual tended to get bored just pushing the cart around, this project added a musical component to the cart to make the exercise more interesting and rewarding.


“Twister-O-Matic”
Our good friends at Oskar Blues Brewery provide employment for individuals served by Imagine! who make Oskar Blues “Can Bling” – necklaces with a beer can with the top removed for use at events such as beer festivals. However, connecting the necklaces to the beer can can be difficult for those with a limited range of motion. The Twister-O-Matic makes that process much easier, therefore making for more productive employees.


iPad Wheelchair Arm
Designed for a woman served by Imagine! who uses a wheelchair for mobility, and doesn’t have the range of motion required to use an iPad while in her chair. This arm make it possible for her to do so.


Adaptive Locker Opener
Designed for an elementary school student with limited mobility, the button makes it much easier to open his locker independently.


Data Tracking Device
This was designed to track noises made by a non-verbal individual to gather data to help caregivers better understand the individual’s needs. The hope is the data will allow caregivers to correlate certain sounds with specific needs, it will decrease outbursts and allow the individual to better communicate with those around her.


Automatic Door Opener
Designed for an individual who uses a wheelchair and whose limited range of motion means she can't access standard accessible door opener buttons. This device "speaks" to the door, allowing the individual to open it using a button attached to her wheelchair.