Friday, June 7, 2013

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to provide an update on Imagine!’s involvement in “Intersections,” a collaboration between Imagine! and Boulder-based Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), funded by a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women. The ultimate goals of the grant are to facilitate sustainable system change at both MESA and Imagine!, and to help MESA as well as Imagine! staff and volunteers improve both organizations’ ability to serve people with disabilities who have experienced sexual assault.

This project is not only a contemporary issue for Imagine!, as it will inform cultural awareness and policy changes, it can also be a vehicle for cultural awareness for the entire system of long-term services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

This unique collaboration is already being recognized for its innovative thinking, and other organizations are interested in learning more. For example, Caitlin Looney, a Mental Heath Therapist at Imagine! and a key player in the collaboration, and Sanjukta Chaudhuri, the Project Manager for Intersections at MESA, are scheduled to present next week at the Colorado Advocacy in Action Conference in Vail, CO. Caitlin and Sanjukta’s presentation, entitled “83%: The Intersection of Disability and Sexual Violence,” will “engage participants in thought-provoking discussions that look at sexual assault with an inclusive lens. Through interactive activities, participants will acquire tools and implement practical use of skills to better serve survivors at the intersection of disability and sexual violence.” Considering that those at the ‘Intersection’ are three times more likely to experience sexual violence in their lives, and the overwhelming majority of mainstream services for survivors of sexual assault sidelines the needs of people with disabilities, this presentation seems especially relevant.

Caitlin has also been invited to be a member of the planning committee for “Bridging the Gap: Creating a Community of Support for Survivors with Disabilities,” the 2014 National Conference on Sexual and Domestic Violence Against People with Disabilities, hosted by the National Center on Victimization and Safety, further demonstrating the buzz this collaboration has created in the human services field.

Congratulations to Caitlin, Sanjukta, and everyone at Imagine! and MESA for involved in this vital project.

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