Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Leadership Development Group Update - December 2017

Submitted by Britt McWilliams, Imagine! Leadership Development Group 2017-18 

Early in November, the Leadership Development Group attended the 17th Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology. According to their website, “the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities works to catalyze and integrate advances in technology that promote the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities and their families.”

One guest speaker at this year’s conference was Professor Mischa Dohler, Director at Centre for Telecommunications Research, Kings College London. Professor Dohler’s keynote presentation was on “The Internet of Skills- Democratizing Labor and Empowering Humans.” He talked about how the current internet available is able to transmit information through video and audio but unable to transmit information through touch.

Kings College in London is working with colleagues globally to pioneer the “tactile internet” which will allow users to transmit touch in real time. Professor Dohler wore a haptic glove during his presentation, capable of recording muscle movement and sensing touch through the internet. One vision for this technology is that end users will be able to shop on Amazon by 2020 using the glove to feel what they are purchasing online.

Using the glove and Internet of Skills, people could perform a variety of tasks remotely. So, how does it work? A person (teacher) would be able to put on the haptic glove (exoskeleton) and perform a task, then upload that information onto the internet of skills database, allowing someone else to learn a task from across the globe by putting on a glove and downloading the information. The sensing glove, capable of recording hand movements, would allow users to mimic the teacher’s movements in order to learn a skill. For example, a teacher on one end could wear the glove to record themselves playing the piano, allowing a user on the other end to pick up a glove and learn the piano using the recorded hand movements of the teacher.

The Internet of Skills’ application possibilities do not stop at learning to play an instrument. A surgeon could teach a group of students to perform robotic surgery. Doctors may be able to treat patients from thousands of miles away, potentially in remote areas where medical skills could be lacking. This sensory glove may provide someone with limited fine motor function the ability to perform a task they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. By expanding on haptic technology already available, Professor Dohler believes that the Internet of Skills will democratize labor in the same way that the internet has made knowledge available to everyone.

View a keynote presentation from Mischa Dohler here

Brodie Schulze, an employee with Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source and member of this year’s Leadership Development Group, gave another noteworthy presentation during a morning breakout session alongside Professor Melinda Piket-May of the University of Colorado’s Engineering Department.

For several years, Imagine! has collaborated with the CU’s Engineering Department to create a variety of assistive technology projects that aid increased independence for the people we serve. Each semester, Imagine! presents Professor Piket-May’s freshman engineering class with a list of assistive technology projects to choose from. The students work in groups of four on a project of their choosing. Instead of purchasing text books, each student chips in $75, giving the groups $300 toward completing the project.

This collaboration not only allows Imagine! to overcome funding restraints and limited product availability, but also provides CU Engineering Students the unique opportunity to work closely with the individuals we serve. Throughout the semester, the students work face to face with the individual to develop a personalized product of adaptive technology, aimed at supporting increased independence for that individual. Past assistive technology projects have included a mechanical whiffle ball bat, a wheelchair Wii adapter, and a wheelchair laundry carrier.

See a project presentation from CU students here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jonny Brennan

Imagine!’s own Jonny Brennan has recently made a splash with his hard work at Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) in Longmont, which inspired us to highlight his dedication and compassion. Jonny joined the team about two and a half years ago. At first glance, he was immediately inspired by his coworkers at Imagine! and decided to make a career out of it. Now an intervention specialist and studying to be a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA), Jonny feels right at home at CLS, “I have no hesitation calling CLS my family because of the relationships I’ve developed here.”

Jonny (left) receives 2017 Employee of Distinction Award
at Imagine!'s annual Holiday Party. 
On December 1st, the CEO of Imagine!, Mark Emery, awarded Jonny the 2017 Employees of Distinction Award at our annual Holiday party. Jonny is one of eight winners this year, from a population of 700 plus employees.

On December 7th, Jonny played a major role in “Imagine! Night,” an event that featured Imagine! participants as honorary coaches at Longmont High School (LHS) Varsity Wrestling’s home opener.

Aside from working at Imagine!, Jonny is an assistant head coach at LHS for men’s Varsity Wrestling. He started wrestling at age four and later down the road began coaching, totaling 22 years in the sport. “Wrestling continues to be my passion in life. The only thing that has ever come close to meaning as much to me as wrestling does is my work here at Imagine!. It only made sense to try and combine these two worlds,” said Jonny.

With the help of CLS Program Coordinator Tim West-Heiss, Jonny introduced the idea of featuring Imagine! participants at a sporting event to LHS Athletic Director. “When I realized how many of our CLS participants were Longmont alumni, and how proud they were to be Trojans, I knew I had to try and get them involved somehow.” The Athletic Director agreed and Imagine! Night was born.

Jonny introduces Neil, Shawn, and Frank (in order)
as honorary coaches to the wrestling spectators.
The evening showcased an Imagine! sponsored booth at the front entrance where Frank, Shawn, Neil, and Autumn (Imagine! participants) greeted spectators and handed out stickers. To kick off the varsity matches, Jonny introduced the three LHS Alumni, Frank, Shawn, and Neil, to the audience as honorary coaches and everyone cheered loudly! The three also stood in the tunnel before each match and slapped hands with Trojan wrestlers about to take the mat.

Jonny sees this as only the beginning. “Some of our wrestlers will come and volunteer at CLS to learn more about our day program, the services we provide, and how we affect our community,” said Jonny. “As a coach, I feel it is my responsibility to expose my wrestlers to this population, to fight negative stigmas that may be associated with this community, and act as a role model for the younger generation. Who knows, some of my wrestlers might be the next crop of Imagine! staff!”

Jonny hopes to expand the partnership with LHS and have honorary coaches at other sports as well.

We thank you, Jonny, for all your hard work and creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. Jonny mentioned that his coworkers inspired him to fall in love with this line of work. We know that Jonny will pass that along and inspire future employees to do the same.
Jonny coaching men's Varsity Wrestling at Longmont High School 


Innovations Super Hero of the Month - Chantelle Tweten

Every month, Imagine!'s Innovations department presents the “Super Hero of the Month” award to the employee or provider who has best demonstrated excellence in one or more of our Innovations Quality Standards:

  • Health, Safety, and Wellbeing 
  • Effective and Efficient 
  • Respect and Dignity 
  • Opportunities 
  • Integrity 
  • Care 
This month, the award was presented to Chantelle Tweten, who is a Residential Assistant Site Supervisor at the Santa Fe Group Home.

Chantelle was nominated by her Site Supervisor, and various management team members, who wrote:

I would like to recognize Chantelle Tweten for her hard work and dedication. Santa Fe was recently put in a tough spot last week with the loss of their dryer. Staff did as much as they could at the house, but both Chantelle and another staff took it upon themselves to take home laundry and do it at their homes for all of the individuals here at the Santa Fe House. Chantelle has shown over and over her dedication to the individuals Innovations serves in the daily encounters she has with the folks, and in keeping Santa Fe a well running machine. 

Additionally, Chantelle has been recognized by for being very helpful, and for her assistance in obtaining needed paperwork with a tight time-frame that could have impacted a person’s benefits. Chantelle was able to get the paperwork signed and sent back within an hour, and this allowed the County to continue processing paperwork without interruption of funding.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Imagine!'s 2017 Employees of Distinction

Congratulations to the 2017 Imagine! Employees of Distinction! (click on the image below to make it larger).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Imagine!'s Early Intervention Rockstar: Laura Chatman

Imagine!’s Early Intervention (EI) program has a terrific team working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. To show their appreciation, this team chooses a “Rockstar” each month within their program. Team members submit nominations describing what the nominee has contributed, going above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Laura Chatman as this month’s Rockstar.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Healing Through Horses

Gillian accepts services from Imagine!’s Out & About department, and last year, joined the Horsin’ Around class for the first time. Held at Medicine Horse in Boulder, participants learn how to build relationships with the horses, care for them, and ride them.

“I like hanging out with them. Getting to know each of their personalities is really rewarding to me,” said Gillian.

A few weeks before Gillian attended the class, she found out that her cousin had died. “I was out of sorts,” said Gillian. “I remember thinking ‘I need to find something to help me cope.’” After spending time in the stalls grooming and feeding the horses, Gillian realized how therapeutic this was for her, “Just being outside, grooming them, and being around them helped me cope.”

With over ten horses on the ranch, Gillian created a bond with one in particular: a white, starling blue-eyed, gypsy pony named Frankie. “It felt like he knew I lost somebody. Animals sense what’s wrong, and it seemed like he was there for me as much as I was there for him.” Gillian recalls a favorite memory in one of the arenas with Frankie. “He rolled around on the ground and got really dirty. I laughed so hard.”

After a few classes of learning how to groom and lead the horses, participants saddled up and furthered those relationships with riding. “My cousin used to ride horses, so every time I rode Frankie, I could feel my cousin’s spirit,” said Gillian. “I felt the spirit say ‘it’s okay, I’m fine.’ It helped lift me out of a fog.” 

“I’m still coming to grips with being okay (about cousin),” said Gillian. “I was glad to take the Horsin’ Around class again this year as it’s helped me get more closure.”

Gillian has found that this class also helps with work she does on the side. “I take care of my neighbor’s dog down the street. I’ve always had a love for animals,” said Gillian. “Horsin’ Around has taught me to be more patient and careful around all animals.” Gillian has worked with three different dogs over the past few years, deepening her passion and care for her four-legged friends :) 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Case Management Unsung Heroes - Gabbie Norton and Jeff Johnson

Imagine!’s Case Management department works with many great people. To show their appreciation, each month they choose an “Unsung Hero” within the department. Case Managers, support staff, and Case Management supervisors all put in nominations describing what the person has contributed to go above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Gabbie Norton and Jeff Johnson as this month’s Case Management Unsung Heroes!

Gabbie goes above and beyond to support members of her team, as well as the clients we service. Just minutes before a new case manager was supposed to run her first Continued Stay Review (CSR) independently, she learned, that for unexpected reasons, she did not have an experienced case manager to accompany her. Gabbie showed initiative and leadership by volunteering to support the new case manager and attended the CSR with her. 

Jeff has consistently been so helpful in resolving the many Medicaid issues that have come up since we started using the Bridge. Most recently, I had a mother of a client contact me about receiving a Medicaid denial letter for her son and she was extremely worried about this affecting his services and medical needs. I contacted Jeff about how to reach Adams County and he provided me with the contacts. When I continued to receive no responses from Adams County, Jeff contacted them and spoke to them directly about the case for a long time to determine the issue. Because of this phone call, my client’s Medicaid was reinstated! His mother was elated and sent an email with a huge thank you to Jeff and said that she “can’t tell me how much gratitude she has for Jeff.” I truly appreciate how willing Jeff is to help in these complicated situations. We couldn’t do it without him! 

Great work, Gabbie and Jeff, and thank you for your dedication!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Today Is Colorado Gives Day!

Today is Colorado Gives Day! 

Below are four simple steps on how to support Imagine! on this day of giving (click on the image to make it larger), and make that support count extra! Thank you in advance for your help in creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. 

Click here to donate

Monday, December 4, 2017

Longmont High Wrestling Hosts Imagine! Night This Thursday

This Thursday evening, December 7, Longmont High School Wrestling hosts their home opener and tagging it "Imagine! Night." Three Imagine! CORE/Labor Source participants will be honorary coaches and featured during the game. Imagine! will have a booth in the lobby to promote its services. Come on out and support this fun event!