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.

Honoring Direct Support Professionals Week

Direct Support Professionals fill a vital need in our communities, providing support to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Though these positions are often underpaid and undervalued, this week the state of Illinois is celebrating all those who embark upon this profession.

That’s why the state of Illinois officially named the week of September 9-15 Direct Support Professionals Week! We are happy to honor those who provide essential supports for individuals with disabilities. Our direct service team works hard every day to provide varied levels of support to our participants.

Woman's Club and Center for Independent Futures volunteer to make soup

Unfortunately, Direct Support Professionals are experiencing difficulty staying in positions due to inadequate wages and benefits, leading to high turnover rates and vacant positions. These issues do not only affect the people in these positions; they also affect the individuals they support.

While the governor recently signed into law a 50 cent raise to the direct support professional minimum wage, it isn’t enough! We should all continue to reach out to our representatives and let know direct support professionals deserve a living wage. As we experience critical shortages of Direct Support Professionals, it’s important to show our respect to these professionals.

So, to all Direct Support Professionals: Thank you for your hard work, your empathy, and your service.

Learn About Sexual Violence Prevention from Susy Woods

In the age of the #MeToo movement, it is becoming common to speak out against sexual violence within many industries and communities. Center for Independent Futures supports all who speak up against sexual violence, and we believe it is crucial not to leave out one population that is disproportionately affected by sexual violence – but is often the least heard.

People with disabilities are part of a historically marginalized group who often rely on others for assistance and care. Unfortunately, sometimes the people designated as caretakers or friends take advantage of a lack of sex education for individuals with disabilities.

The following workshops are from Susy Woods. Susy conducts workshops year round about educational rights and sex education for individuals with disabilities. Her previous audiences include Public Health departments and DRS staff, as well as families and agency staff.

Center for Independent Futures Offers Workshops

Flyer for parents’ workshop

Thanks to generous funding from the Woman’s Club of Evanston and the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, we are offering two workshops on Monday, October 22 at One Rotary Center. The first workshop from 1:00-3:00 pm is for parents of students with disabilities in high school or transition programs. The second workshop is for teachers and agency staff from 4:30-6:30 pm and covers topics like the warning signs of sexual assault and what to teach.

Flyer for school & agency staff workshop

Susy Woods is presenting these workshops to educate families, teachers, and agency staff about sexual violence prevention and how to handle sexual violence accusations. To register for the parent workshop, visit the event page. For school & agency staff, register here. The Rotary Center has very limited seating, so act fast!

Classes for Individuals with Disabilities

Finally, we are offering classes for individuals with disabilities to teach them about self-defense and sexual violence. Many sex education classes exclude people with disabilities, even though this group has the same natural feelings that any other group of adults may feel.

We are offering six classes for women with disabilities, including self-defense classes at Tier 1 Training Center. We will also host six classes for men with disabilities. Led by a male staff member, the class will cover topics including definitions of sexual violence and consent.

We will include these classes on our upcoming activities calendar and added to the online calendar. You can find registration details there as well.

Inclusive Education on Sexual Violence Prevention

We are proud to offer these workshops and classes to the Evanston and North Shore communities. To the Woman’s Club of Evanston, we want to offer our thanks for making these events possible.

Something’s Cooking Features Evanston Restaurants

Photo of two women smiling at Something's Cooking featuring Evanston restaurantsIn two months, Center for Independent Futures’ community will be at the Woman’s Club of Evanston enjoying the culinary standouts in our neighborhood. We are joined by fifteen Evanston restaurants, five local bakeries, and four unique beverage suppliers. Join us from 3-6 pm on Sunday, November 4th to partake in the delectable tastes of Evanston! Get tickets online now!

Our Friendly Little Neighborhood

We are excited to be joined at Something’s Cooking by some neighbors near our office. These Evanston restaurants know us and our program participants, and they support Center for Independent Futures’ mission throughout the year.

Firehouse Grill

This woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse is a restaurant and bar, serving American standards. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch, Firehouse Grill has a new owner, a new menu, and gluten-free menu options. Make sure you try out the new offerings at Something’s Cooking!

Gigio’s Pizzeria

This Evanston staple has been serving the community since 1968, making it the oldest pizza place in Evanston. Gigio’s specializes in New York style thin-crust pizza, and their menu offers burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef & sausages, tacos, burritos, salads, and homemade soups. Gigio’s supports Center for Independent Futures throughout the year with fundraisers and participation in this event.

Table to Stix

Photo of woman with child at past Something's Cooking eventTaking pride in the simple things like great food, service, and atmosphere, Table to Stix Ramen aims to bring all of these important elements to the table with good old-fashioned ramen. Don’t miss the chance to try some of this great Asian cuisine!

Full List of Something’s Cooking Participants:

Bagel Art Cafe

Blind Faith Cafe

Celtic Knot Public House

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Eli’s Cheesecake

Farmhouse

Few Spirits

Firehouse Grill

Flat Top Grill

Fruitbelt Sparking Fruit Tonic

Gigio’s Pizzeria

I Love Sweets

Koi

La Macchina Cafe

Lulu’s & Taco Diablo

Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Peckish Pig

Sketchbook Brewing Company

Table to Stix

Temperance Beer Co.

Final Stretch for Marathon Runners

Collection of photos of past runnersOf most common exercises, running can wreak the most havoc on a person’s body. As your feet strike the pavement, the shock of impact travels up your leg, affecting the delicate bones in your feet, putting stress on your knee joints, and invoking pain in your hips.

But that isn’t stopping our team of 18 Chicago Marathon runners. Mile after mile, our team members will be running for the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities who hope for a future where they can live independently. Our runners have been working hard all year to prepare for a 26.2 mile challenge. In the final stretch for marathon runners, they need your support.

Here’s How You Can Help

  • Help the team reach their fundraising goal of $18,000! This is our biggest goal yet, and our runners need your help! Go to CrowdRise and click the big red button on the right side to donate. You can also donate to individual team members by clicking on their name at the bottom of the page.
  • Let our runners know they have your support! If you have run a marathon before, or if you want to share encouragement, let the team know. Reach out to Connor, and she will pass on your words of encouragement to the team. Knowing you appreciate their hard work and dedication may be the boost they need to keep going!
  • Join us at the Charity Mile Block Party! Cheer on the team with Center for Join our support team during the final stretch for runnersIndependent Futures participants, staff, and Board members as our runners pass Mile 15. The Cheer Team enjoys breakfast and camaraderie – let Connor know if you want more information about joining us at the Block Party.

Ready to Join the Support Team?

If you have any questions or ideas about supporting the final stretch for Marathon team, call the office at (847) 328-2044 or email Connor today!

Explore Housing & Supports with Experts

We are proud to announce our 2018 housing conference Community Partnerships: Creating Housing and Support Options for Individuals with Disabilities.

Join us at National Louis University’s Northshore campus on Friday, October 12th from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, and hear from a variety of professionals working to create and support housing options for individuals with disabilities. Purchase tickets on the event page.

We are pleased to offer Human Service Professionals and Educators a certificate for 6 CEU/CPDUs for the day.

Options in Inclusive Community Housing

Young woman smiling into camera in front of blurred backgroundOur keynote speaker, Micaela Connery, is the founder and CEO of The Kelsey. Inspired by her cousin Kelsey, Micaela has been working on inclusion in communities her entire life. She has seen firsthand the housing crisis facing adults with disabilities and their families. She spent a year studying this issue in detail at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Kelsey exists to turn the challenge of disability housing into the opportunity of an inclusive community.

Community Partner Panels: Supports & Housing

Developers across the country are partnering with stakeholders to create supported alternative housing solutions. Representatives from The Kelsey, HODC, Scioto Properties, Rainbow Village, Movin’ Out and Three Oaks Communities will present how they are creating exciting opportunities.

Our remote support provider panel features Night Owl Support Systems, LLC, Rest Assured, and Simply Home. The panelists will explore how technologies are being used to support individuals with disabilities in living more independently.

Hear from families working to create community-based alternative housing options using our New Futures Initiative. With funding from The Coleman Foundation, we have partnered with agencies like Clearbrook  and the families they serve to work toward creating alternative housing options.

Engage Civic Leaders for Support

Former Oak Park Mayor David Pope Our endnote speaker, former Mayor David Pope, will share how you can effectively engage elected leaders and city administrators in your community. David now works with Oak Park Residential Corporation to create diverse communities in Oak Park.

Clark McCain (The Coleman Foundation) will provide closing statements on building community partnerships within our own communities.

Interested in learning about community-based housing alternatives? Don’t wait! Get your tickets for this conference today!

For more information and questions about registration, email our office or call (847) 328-2044.

Sponsors

Coleman foundation logo@properties logo with red @ sign

Buy Dinner to Support Chicago Marathon Team

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming at us fast! Our eighteen person team is busy training and fundraising their $1,000 minimum, but we want to help them as much as we can! So we are hosting two fundraisers at restaurants in Evanston! Read more for the details..

Chipotle Fundraiser

Chipotle fundraiser flyerFirst up, visit the Chipotle at 711 Church St. in Evanston on Tuesday, September 11th! From 4-8 pm, you can buy dinner for yourself and your family or friends. As an added bonus, a whole 33% of the proceeds will benefit our Chicago Marathon team!

Bring in your phone with this post to make sure the donation goes to Center for Independent Futures. Show the cashier this flyer, and they will take care of everything else!

Potbelly Fundraiser

Then, on Tuesday, October 9th, Potbelly will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit the team just after the Marathon is over.  25% of the proceeds will be donated to our Marathon team’s efforts from 5-8 pm. Visit the location at 630 Davis St. to participate!

Just mention the fundraiser, and you are all set! Potbelly will forward your support for our marathon runners!

What Other Ways Can You Support the Team?

Are you looking for other ways to support Team CIF? Check out this blog post where you can donate to our current team members, or put the Marathon on your calendar! We will be cheering on our runners from the Charity Block Party all morning, and we would love to have you join us!

If you are interested in running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, let us know! We will be looking for team members starting in late October or early November.

Want to find out more? Email Connor Larsen with your question, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

Taking the Full Life Process International

Blue and green logo for Community Living Essex County

COMMUNITY LIVING ESSEX COUNTY, located in Ontario, Canada, believes every individual is essential to the success of the entire community. With over 725 employees supporting over 700 individuals with intellectual disabilities, we knew that our collaborative approach could help this agency support its participants.

“People were asking for a change in their living environments, and we had difficulty determining the level of support needed to assist more independent living,” says project manager Shelbey Pillon. Her organization became involved with Center for Independent Futures as the agency researched tools to aid accurate skills assessments. With more than 300 identified skills and 150 lessons with resources to train skills, our Full Life Process fit the bill.

“The Full Life Process addresses a common struggle among large agencies,” Shelbey says. “The process allows organizations that have many staff working with an individual to efficiently coordinate support.” Because the online application is easy to access by multiple staff members, the agency team can work collaboratively with concrete information to teach and track skill progress. “Staff can monitor progress and share information so everyone knows what has been accomplished and can begin working where other team members left off.”

“It is a thrill to work with our first international partner,” shares Chrissy Lewis, Center for Independent Futures’ Full Life Process Consultant. “Working with Shelbey’s team has been so exciting. They are thinking outside the box as they work to implement the use of the Full Life Process in their organization.”

Our comprehensive, person-centered approach to skills assessment, skill training, and life planning helps us build partnerships with service providers like this one. Working with our programs, Community Living Essex County is able to support people as they follow their dreams toward more independent living.

Save the Date: Something’s Cooking 2018

Two participants attend Something's Cooking, smiling at eventOur favorite fall activity is just around the corner! On Sunday, November 4th, join us at the Woman’s Club of Evanston from 3:00-6:00 pm for Something’s Cooking. We will be joined by the North Shore’s favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries for a tasty evening with delightful treats! Mark your calendars today to guarantee you won’t miss out on this fun fall favorite!

We are looking forward to the signature dishes available to sample, giving us all a taste of Chicago and the North Shore’s best offerings. From pasta to pizza and tacos to cupcakes, a ticket to Something’s Cooking provides you the opportunity to find some new favorites! Plus, don’t miss the event’s silent auction for the chance to place the winning bid on some excellent items.

How Can You Help Out?

Want to help us prepare at this fun event? Volunteers help us plan and run the event while taking part in all the fun! To learn more about available volunteer opportunities, contact Jamie Annenberg by email or call the office at (847) 328-2044. We are also seeking community businesses to support our silent auction. Contact Niki Moe Horrell or call the office number to learn more about this business opportunity.

Something's Cooking attendees smiling in front of barAs always, all funds raised at Something’s Cooking will go toward continuing to support our vision of a future where all people have access to the opportunities of a full, independent life. Watch for more blogs about Something’s Cooking to learn about our featured partners, restaurant partners at the event, and a link to buy tickets online in a new, streamlined format.

Thank you to our sponsors who make Something’s Cooking and our other events possible every year! Once again, we also want to thank our wonderful community for coming out to support the hopes and dreams of our participants every year.

Summer Camp for Transition Students

The end of summer is approaching, but at Center for Independent Futures, we will be leaving summer with a bang! This summer, we hosted two summer camp options for Evanston Township High School Transition House students. The first, Life Tools Camp, we have been offering for eight years, and the second is a five-week Transportation Camp.

Community Resources at Life Tools Camp

Transition students smile during game of kickball at Life Skills CampCynthia and Sharon have run Life Tools Camp since the beginning of this program. Between the two of them, they have yet to miss a year! According to Cynthia, at Life Tools Camp, “We spend time in the community each day, learning safe routes to walk to some destinations and taking the bus or Metra to others.”

As a result, Life Tools Camp students were able to visit and learn about community resources. The students learned from ComEd Ambassador Brian about energy use and conservation, plus a former student from the Transition House met with the campers and discussed how the experience impacted them. In addition to these activities, the group visited the Evanston Public Library, walked to the Evanston Ecology Center, and even took a trip to downtown Chicago – a first for some students.

From learning to playing, Life Tools Camp is an opportunity for students to receive hands-on training in critical life tools while also getting to know their community.

Discovering Transit with Transportation Camp

We hosted a new summer camp too: Transportation Camp. Over the course of five weeks, students from the Transition House met with Sharon and Laura on Fridays.

Each week, they met at the Center for Independent Futures office, and then they went over the information they needed to know for the day. They were asked questions such as, “When do you use your Ventra card?” and “Which stops will we get on and off at today?” The camp covered transportation via Metra, CTA train or bus, and navigating the Evanston area.

We were excited to provide this opportunity, and we hope to offer similar Transportation Camps in the future.

Grateful for Our Community Supporters

Evanston Community Foundation funded our Transportation Camp grantWe want to thank all the Evanston community for welcoming our campers throughout these programs. In addition, we want to thank the Evanston Community Foundation for graciously funding our new Transportation Camp opportunity.

We also want to thank Evanston Township High School for partnering with us to offer life skills programming to their Transition House students. To learn more about our work in schools, click here.

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