5 Wonderful Reasons To Give For Independent Futures

As the holiday season approaches, we are reflecting on a year of growth at Center for Independent Futures. Looking back on the year, we want to thank each of you for your support and suggest five reasons to add us to your year-end giving. We have come up with five reasons for you to give for independent futures. Thanks to community members like you, the lives of more individuals with disabilities have been enriched and the reach of our community has expanded.

#1: We Combat Isolation & Exclusion

Individuals with disabilities face social isolation at a much higher rate than others. Through our Change Champions project, we partner with public and private organizations like public libraries and YMCAs to create cultures of inclusion. Over the last year, this program has introduced several community institutions to the strengths that individuals with disabilities bring to the table.

#2: We Bring Innovation into Classrooms through My Full Life™ 

woman leaning over to help student at a computerWe dream of a future where all individuals can share their gifts with the community of their choice. My Full Life™ is our innovative online solution to help teachers identify how students can reach their goals. With your continued commitment, educators access our innovative online curriculum to train life skills and identify the strengths individuals can bring into their communities.

#3: Our New Futures Initiative™ Brings Hope to Hundreds

Challenges concerning housing and independent living support persist for individuals with disabilities everywhere. Our family-guided New Futures Initiative™ housing approach gives hope to groups across the country. From California to Canada, you help us make a difference in hundreds of lives.

#4: We Strive to Fill the Gap

In the state of Illinois, opportunities for people with disabilities continue to be underfunded year after year. The need for community-based solutions is greater than ever. With your help, we hope to help fill the gap that is created by diminishing state funding. Our robust activities and events calendar provides support for individuals with a variety of interests, including our whole community.

#5: We Are Committed to Person-Centered Solutions

Since our founding in 2002, Center for Independent Futures has been focused on the individual. We have always started at square one by asking each participant, “What are your hopes & dreams?” Thanks to supporters like you, we continue to be leaders in person-centered approaches today.

Adam poses with friends he has made through Center for Independent Futures

We have a lot to look forward to in 2019, including welcoming more family groups to New Futures Initiative training and sharing My Full Life™ with more schools and agencies throughout the country. We are dedicated to helping families live with greater peace of mind and sharing our resources with community leaders. With such a big year coming up, we know we will need your help. Can you give for independent futures today? Please consider making a year-end contribution to Center for Independent Futures today.

Evanston Public Library Explores Community

In September, the Evanston Public Library hosted an event called “Human Library,” where people’s lives were the story. At this event, attendees could “check out” a human book and talk with that person about their story for 15-20 minutes. Two members of Center for Independent Futures’ community were available to talk about their lives with the Evanston community.

Learning Differences

Lindsay, one of our participants, was interviewed for “Dear Evanston” by Nina Kavin. Lindsay’s book was titled “Learning Differences,” and she focused on explaining to people how she feels about being someone with a disability. Lindsay says she felt excited to participate, rather than nervous.

Because of Lindsay’s nonverbal learning disability, she says, “I’m not able to read certain cues or body language.” Nina Kavin asked how that affects Lindsay. “It makes me feel overwhelmed and makes me not want to interact with certain people,” Lindsay answered. According to Lindsay, one way to help is to understand how she is feeling and being flexible in their reaction.

Diversity in the Disability Community

Another of our participants, Billy, also participated in this unique library event. Billy is part of the LGBTQ community, and he has recently changed his preferred pronouns to “he/him” or “they/them.” Billy’s story was about showing that people with disabilities are just as diverse as people without!

LGBTQ advocate Sandy“Many people don’t realize people with disabilities can be gay, lesbian, or have other identities. We are not in a box,” Billy says. He chose to participate in the Human Library event because you can never advocate too much, especially when there are misconceptions like that.

One aspect of the event that surprised Billy was the type of questions he was asked. Several people asked why Billy couldn’t continue to be called Sandy – since Sandy can also be a male name. They responded, “I prefer to go by Billy because I picked that name. I think Billy fits me.”

We love having a diverse group of participants at Center for Independent Futures. It makes our community stronger, and it makes each of us aware of the different identities we can each have.

Thank you to the Evanston Public Library for hosting this cool event and for including our community.

Educators: Join Our New Special Education Resources Group!

Transition coordinators and special education professionals encounter different types of problems in teaching every day. Students with disabilities face different obstacles than their peers. Some of those struggles include advocating for themselves through IEPs and discovering what their next steps will be after high school.

Space to Share Special Education Resources

To help educators navigate these issues, Center for Independent Futures has started a brand new LinkedIn group this week! By joining Special Education: Sharing Ideas & Resources, special education professionals will be entering a community designed to facilitate discussion around topics like these.

Logo for LinkedIn group "Special Education: Sharing Transition Ideas & Resources"This LinkedIn group is open to any and all school staff seeking to create inclusive learning environments for all students, and it can be found in the “featured groups” section of our LinkedIn profile. In this group, we will operate with the understanding that every student deserves access to all opportunities of a full life, regardless of ability, race, gender, or sexuality.  

Our hope is that this group will become a place where educators can brainstorm with other educators and share resources with each other. We will brainstorm discussion topics from time to time, and when we find resources on transition curriculum, IEPs, or classroom inclusion, we will pass those onto all of the group’s members.

When someone joins the group, we don’t want them to hesitate to start discussions about issues. A key step in helping students achieve their hopes and dreams is identifying obstacles and developing plans to address them. Now, educators in this group can apply that strategy to classroom problems they have and crowdsource the solutions!

Find Out More About LinkedIn Group

You can join the group by following this link or by clicking on the group under “featured groups” on our business page. For more information about the group or help joining, email Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044.

Meet and Greet in Highland Park

Among the struggles of achieving an independent life, individuals with disabilities often feel isolated socially. At Center for Independent Futures, we offer a wide variety of social clubs and activities for our participants to engage with their interests in a community setting. Our activities calendar is currently full of fun events in Evanston, but we are creatingTwo participants pose with artwork made in Art Club, an activity that could expand to Highland Park after meet and greet. opportunities to be active in more communities.

In the Evanston area, we host several different clubs for participants. For movie lovers, we have Saturday Cinema, where members vote on the monthly film and participate in discussions after each movie. Our participants who want active lifestyles can take part in yoga, walking club, and even a biking club in the warmer months. With so many options to choose from, anyone can find an activity that interests them.

Goal of Meet and Greet

We are excited to announce Center for Independent Futures is planning to expand our activities calendar to the Highland Park area. We will be hosting a Meet and Greet at West Ridge Center for adults with disabilities and their families. Center for Independent Futures wants to hear from Highland Park residents about what kinds of activities you want to see come to the community.

Center for Independent Futures staff will be present on Tuesday, March 20, from 4:00 – 6:30 to meet the Highland Park community. Feel free to drop in for lively discussions, snacks, and beverages. Creating relationships is an important part of Center for Independent Futures, and we are excited to start building in Highland Park.

For more information, reach out to DeeDee Goldman dgoldman@independentfutures.com.

Success Stories

sat23feb3:00 pm5:30 pmHeARTwords Workshop

mon25feb4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

mon25feb5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club

mon25feb6:00 pm8:00 pmArt Club

tue26feb1:30 pm2:30 pmWalking Club

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