Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Final Thoughts

Written at the top of this blog, from the very first day I started posting on it, was the purpose of its existence. This blog was meant to be a safe zone, where "discussions are open and honest, and new ideas and ways of looking at things are encouraged."

I have tried to live up to those words, which I view as aspirational. I want discussions that involve different ways of thinking because often those types of discussions result in the best outcomes. In fact, sometimes I would post statements that were deliberately provocative to see if a conversation would start. That didn’t always work, at least in terms of public comments (though I did frequently get people commenting to me privately about one thing or another I would post here).

I understand the reluctance of many to make public comments about our field, where the risk of being viewed as out of step with traditional ways of thinking can be daunting. However … as I step off of this platform and away from my position as CEO, I implore my blog readers: ask the tough questions, challenge the status quo, recognize contradictions and point them out, and be willing to poke the bear once in a while.

Our work involves supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in becoming active, contributing members of their communities. That is a challenging task. At Imagine!, we served more than 4,100 people last year. That is 4,100 different personalities, with 4,100 different ways their issues manifest, and 4,100 different needs, goals and desires. That’s just in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Now consider the number of people across that state and across the nation who have some form of an I/DD, and it seems to me that anyone can recognize that there is no “right” answer to how services should be funded and delivered. We should always be striving to do better, and the only way we can do that is by constantly questioning what we’re doing now.

I’m uncomfortable with any talk of my leaving a legacy at Imagine! or the I/DD world, because I hope that our organization and others will continue to find new and better ways of serving our fellow citizens with I/DD. I hope that any ideas I have will only serve as a starting point and will be supplanted by bigger, better, and bolder ideas of how to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. 

I leave that challenge to you, dear reader, and I thank you for letting me play a small role in modeling what that might look like.

Have fun storming the castle! (link to the very first post on this blog, 9/10/09).

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Good News Friday!

As many readers of this blog are already aware, I am stepping down from my position as CEO at Imagine! at the end of this month. After 35 years at this amazing organization, I’m ready to explore new adventures.

One thing that is making this transition easier is knowing that the person who has been selected as my replacement is someone who I believe will continue Imagine!’s tradition of leadership and innovation, while deftly guiding us into the future.

The Imagine! Board of Directors has announced that Rebecca Novinger (you may remember this post I made when she joined Imagine! in 2012) has been offered, and accepted, the position of Chief Executive Officer at Imagine!. I am delighted by her selection.

During her tenure at Imagine!, Rebecca has held vital leadership roles including Director of Client Relations and Chief Strategy Officer. Her success in those positions, her experience and skills, and her demonstrated commitment to Imagine!, our employees, and especially the people we serve, make her the ideal candidate for this job.

I have had the honor and privilege of working closely with Rebecca for the past few years, and I can say that she is immensely smart, dedicated, hardworking, and creative. Beyond those attributes, I see in Rebecca intangible qualities that I believe will lead to success in her new role. She has the ability to see the big picture while remaining cognizant of the small details. She is empathetic and compassionate, yet retains the practical business sense vital for an organization like Imagine! to run smoothly.

I usually end my blog posts asking "Then again, what do I know?" but this time I'd like to share five things I do know about this transition:

  1. I know Rebecca will face some bumps in the road. I did, as did all of my predecessors in this position. 
  2. I know that Rebecca has the courage and strength of character to manage those bumps while never losing sight of Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. 
  3. I know Rebecca will have a strong team at every level of Imagine! to support her. 
  4. I know that under Rebecca’s leadership, Imagine! will remain a bright light worthy of emulation in the field of I/DD services. 
  5. I know my blog readers will join me in welcoming Rebecca to her new position.
Congratulations Rebecca!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Touring Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome yesterday: Melanie Zanini, Dr. Heather Woods, Jean Werner, and Whitney and Lindsay Zanini. Heather Suzanne Woods, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Kansas State University. She is doing a study: “The Rhetoric of Smart Home Technological Innovation: SmartHomes as “Living Laboratories.”

Friday, June 14, 2019

Good News Friday!

Last week, one of my favorite events at Imagine! took place: 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 video below of some of the Messy Play Day sensory activities to see what the words look like in action.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Technology Tuesday

In late May, Imagine!'s Adult Day Program visited the Loveland Public Library to play with fun tech toys: 3D printing, virtual reality, and Xbox on the big screen! Thanks a million to the library for being great hosts and having fun with us! Melissa used the 3D printer to make that necklace she's wearing and painted it in art class!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Good News Friday!

The opening night reception of the Annual Imagine! CORE/Labor Source (CLS) Art Show at the Dairy Arts Center is set for June 21. Join us for art (there will be an interactive mask making table), music (there will be a performance by CLS musicians at 6:30), and an appreciation of the amazing artists who accept services from Imagine!. The art show, “Masks: How I Feel on the Inside” runs from June 21 – July 14. We’re also very excited to team up with Museo de las Americas for this exhibit!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Just The Facts

This is a blog post about facts.

On July 18, 2007, David Braddock, who at the time was the Executive Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, provided testimony to a Colorado Senate/House interim committee on developmental disabilities.

In his testimony, Braddock argued that Colorado was at a “turning point” in terms of its need to reframe and/or significantly expand its resource commitments for intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) services. Historically, Braddock argued, Colorado’s fiscal effort for I/DD services (spending for those services as a fraction of aggregate statewide personal income) had been significantly below the average US state for 30 years, and that the gap was widening.

Did this powerful testimony help Colorado act on the turning point he mentioned? No. The gap is wider still.

There is plenty of data to support this fact, but I’ll just focus on a few numbers. In 1977, Colorado’s fiscal effort for I/DD services was $2.17 per $1000 of personal income. Nationwide, that number was $2.24. Fast forward to 2015, the last year we have data for this, Colorado’s fiscal effort was $2.29. Nationwide, that number was $4.30. (Just for fun, the top state is investing $9.20 per $1000 of personal income).

In 1977, Colorado was essentially average among states in its fiscal effort toward serving our fellow citizens with I/DD. Now, we are substantially below average, ranked 47th in the nation when compared to other states. Colorado was already poorly ranked when Braddock presented in 2007 (46th), so we have seen a further decline.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s population continues to grow and its economy is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the nation, and recently as high as 5th in the nation. So we could have acted at any time since Braddock’s testimony and haven’t.

Who is responsible for our state’s inability to act on Dr. Braddock’s dire warnings over a decade below? Any number of stakeholders could have stepped forward and worked to implement some of his suggestions, including taxpayers, voters, professional advocates, policy makers, legislators, the Joint Budget Committee, and various Governors, but none did. Colorado lacks a true champion for people with I/DD at the decision making level, and it shows.

The turning point in Colorado referenced by Dr. Braddock is still there. It’s not a secret. However, we can still act. The next time you are in a group of people, simply explain this situation and ask, “Are we OK with this?” “Show of hands.” Let’s see if we can discover the conscience of Colorado.

At some point, our state needs to make a decision: is this lack of support for people with disabilities what we want our state to be known for? If the answer is yes, then ethically we should encourage families to shop other states. We don’t need to change anything. If the answer is no, then put the state’s conscience to work; figure out how to enact real, meaningful, and lasting change to its support of individuals with I/DD.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Good News Friday!

Congrats to Imagine!'s Out & About adult participants for completing a 5K race a couple of weeks ago. Hosted by Two Angels Foundation, Inc., our participants geared up for this event all spring by training and raising money. It was a huge success and we look forward to doing it again next year!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Good News Friday!

Mandy, who accepts services from Imagine!, participated in a “Maker Monday” at the Loveland Library this past Monday. Maker Mondays are hosted by the Loveland Library the first and third Monday of every month for fun STEM maker activities, and Mandy’s presentation fit the bill perfectly.

Mandy has been working with Imagine’s Stephanie Kenealy on an interactive book using the TAPit, an interactive computer station designed for individuals with disabilities used by Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source team. For Maker Monday, Mandy read her book using the TAPit at the library to a group of younger children.

Thanks to library employees Erik & Beth, who were a huge help in making the Maker Monday event happen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Today, I am pleased to share the final report of the Imagine! Remote Supports demonstration for people with intellectual disabilities. You can find the full report here, and below is the report's Executive Summary, showing that Remote Supports can cost effectively help people live independently with increased safety and self-reliance. 

Imagine! has a long standing reputation as a leader in bringing technology solutions to Long Term Care (LTC) services. One simple and obvious solution that has not been embraced by the State of Colorado is Remote Supports. Remote Supports consists of a system of sensors and devices designed to monitor a person’s environment and alert caregivers of situations that need attention. Such situations can include flooding because a sink overflowed or danger of fire because a stove was left unattended. The current Colorado Developmental Disabilities waiver system does not allow complete reimbursement for these types of supports.

Many states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri and Connecticut will cover costs associated with a remote monitoring system including hardware, installation and monthly service fees. These states have recognized the value of using technology to support independence without sacrificing the health and safety of the individual. In an age of dwindling human resources and ever tighter Medicaid dollars the embracing of these technological supports is becoming a necessity.

In 2014, Imagine! received a commitment of $100,000 from the Aaron Matthew Tuneberg Memorial Fund to create a three-year, replicable pilot project that used technological supports to improve the safety of Colorado citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are able to live independently or with limited supports in their communities.

The goal of the pilot project was to install Remote Support systems with as many individuals as possible, and to measure the systems’ effectiveness. Imagine! chose to partner with SimplyHome, a North Carolina and Wisconsin-based company that provides a system called “The Butler” to help individuals live more independently. The SimplyHome system uses a central control unit to send alerts to caregiver/s based on rules defined by the caregiver and data collected from a variety of sensors including heat, motion and water.

Over three years, Imagine! installed fifteen Butler systems in individual’s homes and assessed how these systems impacted areas of concern when it came to safety. Imagine! examined data from surveys conducted with caregivers, alert data produced from the SimplyHome system and incident reports involving individuals in the pilot. We found that overall, the SimplyHome system increased the person’s health and safety while preserving their independence. These results support what other states already know: remote supports can reduce costs of LTC and users enjoy the benefit of personal freedoms and self-reliance.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Good News Friday!

Imagine!'s Out & About After School Program presented their annual theater performance last month at Centaurus High School in Lafayette, CO. Throughout the year, Imagine! participants helped write "Elevator Explorers," an original one act play. Then, come spring, they took the spotlight and let their creative expression shine! If you missed it, you can check out the play below.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Recent “tourists” at Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome: Susan Klingel, Director, and Janice Rutledge, Residential Coordinator, from the Arc of Madison County in Huntsville, Alabama. The pair are pictured above with Imagine!'s Director of IT, Kevin Harding.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Good News Friday!

One of the best aspects of providing services in Boulder and Broomfield counties is the many organizations and people who support our work in ways big and small. Below are some examples in our community of how you can be part of our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Here's a way you can support individuals with intellectual disabilities in achieving their fitness goals, and get a clean car to boot! Imagine!’s Out & About Happy Feet Program is holding a car wash on May 15 at Imagine!'s Coal Creek Building, 1665 Coal Creek in Lafayette. Donations will go toward registration for a 5K Race the Happy Feet participants have been training for over the past few months.

The good folks at Acreage Ciderhouse and Eatery and Stem Ciders (1380 Horizon Ave, Unit A, Lafayette, CO) host Community Giving Nights every month. Here's how those work: During each month, they select three charities to support. Each Monday night during that month, guests at Acreage will be given a token for every cider they purchase, they will then have the option of choosing one charity to support at the end of the night. At the end of each month, Acreage donates $1 for every token given for each charity.

For May, they selected Imagine! as one of the organizations to support!

We are so grateful! You can help create a world of opportunity by going to Acreage any Monday this May and trying some of their amazing cider, their great food, and enjoying the spectacular view.

See you there!

Do you shop at King Soopers? If so, you can help support Imagine!’s mission while purchasing your groceries.

It’s simple to get started:
  • Go to http://www.kingsoopers.com 
  • Sign in to your account (or create one) in upper left of web page 
  • Click on My Account From left column, click Community Rewards In the search box, type Imagine!, and Imagine! Foundation will show up. Choose it and we will receive a portion of your sales! 
Thanks, and happy shopping!

Speaking of grocery shopping, South Boulder Lucky’s Market has selected Imagine! as one of this quarter’s (February 3-May 25) Lucky’s Bags For Change partners!

For our readers who live in the area, we’d sure appreciate it if you were to make a shopping trip or two to Lucky’s (located at 695 S Broadway St. in Boulder) before May 25 so you can participate in this fun and environmentally friendly way to support our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Here’s how it works: when shoppers bring in their reusable bags, they can choose to receive $.10 back per bag credit or donate that amount to one of the three Bags For Change partners, including Imagine!. Even better: when a shopper donates, Lucky’s Market will match the donation and double the giving to the nonprofits! Make sure you bring in your reusable bag so you can start dropping dimes to support the three partners.

Thanks Lucky’s for your demonstrated commitment to your community, and thanks in advance to all of you who help out by shopping at Lucky’s South Boulder!

And last, but certainly not least, our generous friends at McGuckin Hardware have set aside the dates of May 17 – May 26 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.

I thank McGuckin Hardware for their commitment to their community, and I 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 3, 2019

Good News Friday!

In today's thriving economy, it can be tough for businesses to find that perfect fit: an employee who learns and grows with your business on a long-term basis.

Imagine! has a solution. 

Imagine!'s Supported Employment program has partnered with businesses for over 30 years in Boulder and Broomfield counties, employing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With support from trained Imagine! employees, these hard working and reliable individuals are eager to jump into the market and prove their skills!

Check out the video below to hear the story of how one company has found tremendous benefit from partnering with Imagine! for their employment needs. And if you have a business looking for employees, or know someone who does, then check out our website to learn more and get started.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Good News Friday!


Join us for the 5th annual Imagine! Out & About Centre Stage for Kids performance. Participants from Out & About's after school program have worked all year on a one act play to share with the community!

Sponsored by the City of Lafayette and PEN (Parent Engagement Network).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Join Imagine! On Our Day Of Giving!

Technology is opening the doors to more opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, making things that were once impossible, possible.

To support Imagine!’s many technology initiatives, we are hosting a “Day of Giving” today – twenty four hours to invest in Imagine!’s use of technology to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Technologies like:

Voice command technologies that enhance a person's ability to control his/her environment.

Virtual Reality that provides job training and leisure activities.

Remote Supports that allow people to live more independently.

To make the day even more impactful, our credit card vendor is waiving all fees on donations made on our Day of Giving!

Click here to donate

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Mandy, who accepts services from Imagine!, will be participating in a “Maker Monday” at the Loveland Library on May 20. Maker Mondays are hosted by the Loveland Library the first and third Monday of every month for fun STEM maker activities, and Mandy’s presentation fits the bill perfectly.

Mandy has been working with Imagine’s Stephanie Kenealy on an interactive book about the TAPit, an interactive computer station designed for individuals with disabilities used by Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source team. For Maker Monday, Mandy will read her book using the TAPit at the library to a group of younger children.

Cool stuff. Congrats, Mandy!

Below are some photos of Mandy in action creating the book, as well as a flyer for the event she created to promote the event.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good News Friday!

Shelly’s Story, a short documentary created by MassFX Media for Imagine!, was recently nominated for best short documentary at the Colorado Film and Video Association (CFVA) awards.

While we didn’t end up winning, the ability to share the video with that audience and many others through social media due to this honor was tremendous. We thank MassFX for their amazing support of our organization and for their great work sharing Shelly’s story.

Pictured below are MassFX’s Shawna and Matt Schultz with one of the Imagine! employees featured in the video, Meagan Little, at the awards ceremony.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Touring Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome yesterday: Christina Garcia and Tina Velenzuela from our local Sam’s Club. Not only did we share how technology can change the lives of individuals with disabilities, they discussed ways Sam’s might be able to help in our efforts!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Good News Friday!

Imagine! artists are once again making their community brighter and more joyful.

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities taking art classes through Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source Adult Program currently have their work on display at Que’s Espresso, located at 600 S Airport Rd in Longmont.

Que’s is open 6am-6pm on weekdays, 6am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, and the art will be displayed until April 29. Some examples of the artwork are shown below, but you really should see the show in person – there are some truly remarkable paintings to behold!

By the way, if you like what you see, the paintings shown here and many more are available for sale on the Imagine! Etsy page

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Technology Tuesday

I have made reference to Ohio becoming the first state to suggest Technology First when considering service plans for people with I/DD. Well, new information is emerging and I sense it is time once again to encourage the State of Colorado, home of Families at the Forefront of Technology, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, CU Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Advancing Cognitive Technologies, and our very own Imagine!, to take the progressive position of a Technology First State.

Open Minds recently reported the states that have adopted a technology-centric approach. They include Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Now, the world of I/DD is a non-partisan arena when it comes to the measurement of quality services across states, as referenced by the United Cerebral Palsy Case for Inclusion study. That said, I could not help but observe the tendencies and leanings of the states advancing the use of technologies in I/DD services. I encourage you to take a look.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Good News Friday!

Last week was spring break, and Imagine!'s School Closure Days services kept busy! Mile High Stadium, the Children's Museum, ice skating, dance class, science experiments, hiking, the State Capitol, capture the flag, a tour of Red Rocks Amphitheater, and more. Scroll down to see pics from the week and enjoy the fun!