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!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Hard Truths

Recently I have been in a variety of conversations about the culture of Imagine!; people trying to understand why Imagine! is the way it is, and what will it take to continue to thrive.

About the same time, I came across a wonderful article in Harvard Business Review, by Gary P. Pisano, Professor at Harvard Business School. The article, entitled The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures, very well describes characteristics of a culture not unlike that of Imagine!. Granted, Imagine! does not operate in a fertile landscape like high tech companies, nor is there an abundance of financial resources in the work we do. Nonetheless, the culture described in the article is able to thrive regardless of the landscape and resources.

Here are some of the takeaways from the article with respect to Imagine!.

Leaders and employees value a culture that is conducive to innovation. I have never felt that simply being a good service provider for people with I/DD was enough. Any organization of quality can do that. Rather, expecting there will always be a better way, producing better outcomes, should be the norm. This opens the door for innovation, and the expectation that all employees should feel responsible to step through that door.

Tolerance for failure requires an intolerance for incompetence.
We do not have the financial resources for incompetence. This may sound counter-intuitive. “Then how do you afford competence?” you might ask. Highly competent people value an innovative culture. Clearly identifying and expected standards of performance, communicating these standards clearly and regularly, and allowing for failure only when it results in learning, help to create the preferred environment. Imagine! isn’t without its failures. In hindsight, however, they are not dwelled upon unless the story can be used for educational purposes; clearly pointing out what we have learned. At Imagine!, innovation requires employees continuing to develop new competencies. This may be with emerging technologies where none had existed before. It may require a care-giver who wants to help, to step back and allow for personal self-sufficiency. Some parts of a care-givers role may be rendered obsolete.

Organizational discipline is possibly to most underrated contributor to innovation. “Without discipline, almost anything can be justified as an experiment.” Throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks is not a practice that works when financial resources are limited. I love the idea of unreasonable ideas, however, people need to be able to defend their proposal to the end-game, the result they are looking to achieve.

How many organizations in the human services sector do we identify as nice, or polite? In fact, “… when it comes to innovation, the candid organization will outperform the nice one every time. Unvarnished candor is critical to innovation because it is the means by which ideas evolve and improve.” The leadership team at Imagine! has no problem disagreeing with the CEO. People need to feel comfortable criticizing ideas no matter where they come from. When I hire a new member of the team with which I am working, I make it clear early on that I expect the new person to disagree with me. Experience indicates that apparently this expectation is met … with enthusiasm.

Our current Imagine! Leadership Development Group is coincidently studying collaboration within the company. "Too often, collaboration gets confused with consensus. And consensus is poison for rapid decision making and navigating the complex problems associated with transformational innovation." One doesn’t have to look further than the regular observations and debates this blog has taken on about the system of services for people with I/DD. The phrase “influence without accountability” comes out of me regularly. Individual accountability is critical to collaboration. Pisano points out that, “There is nothing inconsistent about a culture that is both collaborative and accountability-focused.” In fact, “Accountability and collaboration can be complimentary, and accountability can drive collaboration.” At Imagine!, we hold each other accountable, and guess what – it’s OK.

When I look around at other organizations in our field of work, I often see bureaucratic operations; large organizations performing in multiple states where the bottom line drives all of their decisions. That can work when the end goal is to be a good service provider. That is not motivational for Imagine!. We are culturally flat. “Deference is granted on the basis of competence, not title.” Remember, we established an intolerance for incompetence. At Imagine! we tend to push decision-making to the most practical level; to the person closest to situation demanding the decision. That person is encouraged to use their good judgement and implore more sets of eyes on a situation as the risk rises. The organizational result? “They tend to generate a richer diversity of ideas than hierarchical ones, because they tap the knowledge, expertise, and perspectives of a broader community of contributors.” 

However, here is the critical counter intuitive note: “Paradoxically, flat organizations require stronger leadership than hierarchical ones.” I would argue that the leadership team at Imagine! over time has demonstrated the ability to set the necessary priorities and direction for success.

The bottom line, as Pisano points out, is that innovative cultures require a combination of contradictory behaviors. Oftentimes in my experience I have found that on the surface, the elements even seem counter-intuitive.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Technology Tuesday

In fall of 2018, Imagine!’s Director of Service Operations Shannon Kluth made a public statement that the efforts of integrating technology into Imagine! services will be taken to the next level, launching the Technology Initiative. “This initiative is meant to differentiate ourselves from other organizations through the integration of technology into the lives of the people we serve,” stated Shannon. The main priority is to increase self-reliance for the individuals Imagine! serves and to assist them in living fulfilling and healthy lives.

Since the launch of the Technology Initiative, Imagine! services have seen an uptick in creative activities and technology usage. Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department teaches an Assistive Technology class several times a week and has incorporated a couple of neat concepts to the classes:

Virtual Reality

Once a week, the class visits Reality Garage on Pearl Street in Boulder, a studio specializing in creating XR experiences (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality). Participants can go for a hike on an exotic mountain top, skydive, or experience a jungle safari. “It simply increases the quality of life,” said Imagine! Assistive Technology Specialist Chris Baumgart. “Our clients might not otherwise be able to experience these activities due to mobility or financial reasons.”

Along with simulating recreational experiences, Reality Garage plans to build Imagine! a virtual job site later this year. This will provide clients with a virtual workspace to practice job skills and tasks before actually stepping foot into the workplace.

Apple Store Field Trip

The weekly iPad class took a field trip to the Apple store on Twenty Ninth Street Mall in Boulder. Apple staff designated a table for Imagine!, supplied iPads for everyone to use, and taught a class in “how to make your own Emoji!” Clients learned how to communicate in creative ways using the iPads. The Apple staff members were very welcoming and friendly, and it was a successful class!

Assistive Technology Program Supervisor Meagan Little works at our CLS site in Longmont and has played a large role in turning fun ideas into these tangible activities and meaningful classes. “Technology is a big part of my life, and I want to assist the individuals we serve in having the same experiences,” said Meagan. Instructors Erin Schram and Zoe Rolfe have played important roles as well.

Just as modern technology is always evolving, so will the Technology Initiative at Imagine!. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to integrate technology into Imagine! services, all while creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.