Thursday, April 30, 2015

Save the Date: October 15, 2015 for the Coleman Institute Conference on Disability and Technology

Save the date!

October 15: The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology.

The keynote speaker will be Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D., Chairman of Special Olympics, co-founder and chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and best-selling author of “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most.”

WHEN: October 15, 2015

WHERE: Omni Interlocken Hotel, 500 Interlocken Blvd. Broomfield, CO 8002

Registration opens May 22, 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Artists at Imagine!

Check out this beautiful painting titled Sunset, it was painted by Rebecca, who is a resident at Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder. She created this painting in an adaptive arts class offered by Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source department.

Imagine! provides many services to people with disabilities in our community. One of the services we provide is the opportunity for individuals to learn to express oneself through arts of different mediums. We also believe in supporting those artists who wish to take their art to a professional level.

Imagine! CORE/Labor Source Art Instructor Bridget Carroll developed a class, 'Art at Work,' where advanced artists are encourage to create, market, and sell their art to their community and beyond. The Imagine! artists have shown their art in local coffee shops and galleries and have seen great success, but they wanted to expand their audience. Like many professional artists, the Imagine! artists asked for support in selling their art through an online venue. Their art is now for sale online through an Etsy account (click here to check it out). You can search by specific artists on the top left section of the website or just skim through the page. The artists are extremely proud and they encourage you to check out their new website!

The artists are offering a 20% discount when you use the coupon code 'iloveimagineart' at check out to celebrate the grand opening of their online shop.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Imagine!'s Leadership Development Program Update for April

Our thanks to Elena Ciaravino for sharing this update from Imagine!'s 2014/2015 Leadership Development Group.

This month, having crossed the half way mark the Leadership Development Group, we are taking the opportunity to reflect on the experience and answer the questions of: What has been your favorite experience in the LDG so far? What was something that surprised you about the experience so far, something you weren’t anticipating getting out of the experience? Any additional comments you would like to share.

Cassie Rogers wrote, “My favorite experience in LDG, so far, has been the experience of the Great Leaders Series with Jan Baller. The two classes we have attended so far have really opened up my perspective to how different people lead and the multi-faceted layers to building trust and motivating staff in the workplace. Our classes have been interactive and the open discussions have really led me to some deep introspection of my own leadership style and how I can be most effective through understanding everyone relates differently to one another. This series also has motivated me to really consider what my personal credo is at Imagine! and to understand the mission and values of CORE/Labor Source as well.”

“As we only have 3 more months of LDG to complete and the end is quickly approaching, I find myself hopeful that I can maintain the relationships I have built with so many wonderful people in other departments. I also hope to maintain and continue growing as a leader by reviewing all that I have learned and by allowing others to challenge me in the goals I have set. I feel grateful for this opportunity and am still so appreciative to my team here at CLS for nominating me and supporting me through this whole experience”.

Emily Pitt reflections are, “This far I have enjoyed the time that I have spent with both of my LDG mentors the most. Each of them have offered me guidance and information which I have found very helpful in my personal growth.”

“I was not anticipating getting improvement to time management skills out of the LDG experience. With all of the extra obligations that I have through LDG and my regular work and home obligations I have really been force throughout the past 8 months to look at my time as a resource that I do not want to waste. My hope is that I will be able to continue to use these new skills after my LDG responsibilities have ended to improve my productivity.”

“ I am very thankful that Imagine! offers formal training like this to help cultivate our internal leaders. This program makes me very proud to work for such a great company. I have mixed feelings about the program being ¾ of the way over and am trying to get the most that I can out of the short time we have left.”

Sarah Baglee shared, “My favorite experience has been getting to consistently spend time and have discussions with people from other Imagine! departments. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how everyone’s work is so different, and the ways that we all contribute to the same mission.”

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how open and honest different Imagine! staff, from those in my department to the executive team, are about their experiences with the history of Imagine! and the IDD world, and what they see as the pros and cons of the work they do. While I wouldn’t have expected anyone to be closed about it, it wouldn’t have necessarily occurred to me to have these kinds of conversations outside of the daily work that must be done.”

Meagan Roundtree included, “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is getting the interaction and experience with other departments. I think that the thing that I’ve gotten most out of the experience is just the interaction and support I get from the group; I feel it’s a safe place to exchange ideas, concerns, stresses, etc. and that is nice to have a release for that.”

There are so many things that I have enjoyed from this LDG experience, it is hard to state just one. I have benefited immensely from the greater understanding of Imagine! as a whole that the LDG has presented me. The exposure I have had of the other divisions, employees, and internal workings of Imagine! has opened my eyes and created a deeper desire and intrinsic motivation within me to contribute my best.

 Photo from the Imagine! Celebration: Meagan Roundtree, Sarah Baglee, Elena Ciaravino, Cassie Rogers

I did not anticipate having the opportunity to be involved in the Imagine! Celebration. I very much enjoyed my time that evening seeing the amount of work went into the event and to see the success that came out of it!

We all look forward to what the last few month of the LDG will bring!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Look Back at National Volunteer Appreciation Week 2015

Last week, Imagine! celebrated National Volunteer Appreciation Week by spotlighting the many contribution that volunteers share by giving their talent and time to our organization on the Imagine! Facebook page. Volunteers are a huge part of Imagine!’s success. In the fiscal year 2013-2014, 409 people voluntarily gave their talent and time to Imagine!, providing 12,261 hours of service. The estimated value of those volunteer hours to Imagine! during that time is $275,025.45!

We’d like to recognize Leona Stoecker, who is an incredible Imagine ambassador. Leona regularly brings local business and community leaders, as well as Rotarians from around the world to tour and visit Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome. Leona is an Emeritus member of the Imagine! Foundation Board of Directors, and is recognized by all for her infectious enthusiasm and passion supporting the Imagine! Mission. Thank you Leona for your contributions as an Imagine! volunteer.

We’d like to recognize the Rusk family (Kristen, Serena, Isabelle, and Jason), who volunteer at Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome every Tuesday night for board game fun! Residents truly enjoy the regular good and kind hearted fun that the Rusk family brings each Tuesday night. Staff at the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome shared that “each resident has a blast when the Rusk family visits, because of their enthusiasm and genuine interest when chatting about what is new in each of the resident’s lives.” Thank you Rusk family for your contributions as an Imagine! volunteers. 

We'd like to recognize Zoe Pols, who has been sharing her creativity and compassion with Imagine! for nearly two years. Zoe has volunteered with our CORE/Labor Source program, working to support staff and students in their art, creative writing, and music classes. Zoe has also volunteered her creative talents by creating beautiful centerpieces for Imagine!’s annual fundraising event the Imagine! Celebration. Thank you Zoe for your contributions as an Imagine! volunteer.

We'd like to recognize Elizabeth Straka who has volunteered with Imagine!'s Out & About program. As a volunteer, Elizabeth has worked with participants and staff in Out & About’s Children’s After School program during bowling outings and with Centre Stage for Kids rehearsals. Everyone appreciates the caring energy that Elizabeth brings as a volunteer, and the kids really respond well to her. She is playful, attentive, and is always willing to help where needed. In the picture below, Elizabeth is on the left wearing a black top. Thank you Elizabeth for your contributions as an Imagine! volunteer. 

Volunteers bring much more than monetary value to our organization. Imagine! is a community-based organization, and we can’t do what we do without the support of our community. Volunteering offers a great opportunity for members of our community to experience first-hand the vital work Imagine! employees do, and just as important, to see the amazing contributions that individuals served by Imagine! bring to their communities every day. Imagine! volunteers frequently become donors to our organization, and many end up working for us full time!

By the way, do you know of someone interested in volunteering for Imagine!? Or do you have an Imagine! project that could use assistance from volunteers? If so, contact Imagine!’s Volunteer Coordinator by email Elizabeth Hill, or phone 303-926-6460.

Finally, check out the short video below, created to encourage more people to volunteer at Imagine!.

Can’t see the video? Click here:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CU Students Present Case Study To Imagine!

A group of three University of Colorado Boulder undergraduate seniors from a variety of disciplines collaborated on a case study for Imagine! as part of a CU Leadership Studies Capstone course. The case study looked at questions of intellectual property around assistive technology created by CU students for people served by Imagine!. Early last week, the students, Alyssa Proctor, Jessica McArthur, and Cassie Olson, presented their findings to Imagine! leadership. It was very helpful and informative, and we are thankful for their hard work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Update from Shelly: Imagine!'s Charles Family SmartHome Ambassador Extraordinaire

Late last month, Shelly, who receives services from Imagine!, and staff members from Imagine!’s Innovations department attended a Community Provider Fair for families who have family members living in the Wheat Ridge Regional Center, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Shelly acted as an ambassador at Imagine!’s information booth and shared her story about successfully moving out of the Wheat Ridge Regional Center to a more community based setting (Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome). Shelly did a fantastic job adding new content to her Dynovox (her computerized communication device) and really enjoyed the chance to share. Great work Shelly, and thanks for helping out!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Let's Celebrate Siblings Day: April 10, 2015

In honor of April 10 being National Siblings Appreciation Day, we’d like to honor siblings everywhere by sharing the following story.

Over the past year I have been fortunate to work with several advocacy efforts to support siblings of individuals in our community. Siblings are such an integral part of a person’s life who experiences a disability. Whether older or younger, they are at times the silent strength, fun, diversion, and driving force for their disabled brother or sister. They help leave the wheelchair skid marks on the wall, instigate a water fight that ends in rolling on the floor in laughter, and spend the day drawing funny faces to bring out the smiles when all there are is tears. What can be said about siblings is that they are an amazing support system that sometimes works so well that they blend into the background when so much is going on.

When my sister was diagnosed with developmental disabilities, we lived in an area that did not provide much support for families, let alone siblings. It was often a struggle just to find a doctor who understood my sister and what her needs were, and often the needs of the family were not even a part of the equation. I remember sitting in doctor’s offices while my mother talked with the doctors and feeling as if I had become invisible in the process, yet knowing that any decision made would impact my life as much as my sister’s life. The next surgery, therapy, or treatment gave me the same fears and doubts as my mom and sister. I sat in every waiting room along with my mom and sister, visited every specialist, made every trip to the emergency room, and fought every struggle with my sister.

There is a certain sense of powerlessness that siblings can feel because they are, at times, not included in the processes, and understanding the processes is very key to siblings later becoming advocates and guardians for their siblings. As parents become older, siblings can be that natural source of support, guidance, and care that is critical for continuity of care. However, many siblings that I have had the honor of meeting in the last year have expressed not feeling prepared or feeling lost in the process which has left them feeling alone yet again.

So, in honor of April 10th being the National Siblings Appreciation Day, I encourage everyone to reach out to the siblings of the families you support regardless of their age or level of involvement and thank them. Thank them for being that amazing support system that blends into the background, thank them for caring, and thank them for being involved. Also, let them know that there are resources and support systems out there for them. Siblings of individuals with disabilities should never feel alone, and they should celebrate their uniqueness.

Lou Ella with her sister Merribeth

Here are some resources for siblings:

Learn more about the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) at, and the Colorado Chapter of the SLN

In honor of all of the siblings who work within the Imagine! network, and especially to Lou Ella Price who shared this story with us, thank you!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April is National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. In honor of this month, Erica Sisavat, who teaches a poetry class for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department, shared the following poem, which blossomed from the imaginations of Neal and Autumn, who are students in Erica’s class.

We hope that you enjoy this example of the talent that is shared by the people served by Imagine!.
 “The Moon and The Sky”

The stars at nighttime
The moon comes out at night
I look at stars with mama

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Unintended Consequences Associated With iOS Changes and Updates

We'd like to introduce you to Kara, who experiences a cognitive disability due to a severe traumatic brain injury that she began living with at the age 5. One of her challenges is with time management and how to move through her day as an independent young woman.

Despite her cognitive disability, and with great determination, support, and help from technology, Kara is able to live in her own home.

Using technology, she prompts herself using her own voice to tell her what to do. Kara's self-directed prompts go off automatically with the help of her iPad and without any need for Kara to even have to interact with the device.

Right now, because of changes and updates for Apples iPad iOS operating system, Kara must use iOS5 on her iPad. As only iOS5 supports the original features of Aida Reminder Lite, which is the self-directed time management App that Kara uses to live as an independent young woman.

In the spirit of the Declaration of the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access, click HERE to learn more about Kara's story.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Update from Imagine!’s Innovations Advocacy Council

Words matter. Imagine!’s Innovations Advocacy Council would like to remind everyone that "Respect" starts with the words that we use on a daily basis.

The Innovations Advocacy Council understands that it is not always easy to stop using words that have become industry standards, but through the commitment of the people who provide services, the family members, and the individuals in services, a cultural change can occur.

Please consider viewing their video below, “liking” the video, and sharing the video. Imagine!’s Innovations Advocacy Council is hoping to get 5280 likes to match Denver’s elevation. We hope you will help us get there!
Can't see the video? Click HERE!