David’s Senior Bowl Dreams Come True!

Logo for Senior Bowl. David attended and made his Senior Bowl dreams come true. Center for Independent Futures participant David Kromelow has been dreaming for three years about attending the Senior Bowl, a post-season college football all-star game played each January in Mobile, Alabama. The event showcases the best NFL Draft prospects of those players who have completed their college eligibility. The game has consistently been played on a Saturday in January, and the week-long practice that precedes the game is attended by key NFL personnel (including coaches, general managers and scouts), who oversee the players as possible prospects for pro football. Last year, David just didn’t feel it. This year he achieved his Senior Bowl dreams.

How David Made It Happen

“I wanted to go because it would be a great experience to network and interact with people in the NFL and in the journalism business,” explains David. To get himself ready, David spent a lot of time over the course of the past year practicing his craft by hosting a weekly podcast and reaching out to guests via social media. He worked hard on his podcast and website to push out content and to stay on top of all the important NFL news, and to connect with others in the industry.

Feeling more comfortable, in tune with college football, and armed with information to interview journalists, prospects, NFL media relations, and PR teams, David headed for Mobile. “It is hard to describe because it was such an amazing experience,” relates David. “I flew in on Monday, checked into the hotel, and attended an introductory media hosted event. I was able to hit the ground running and interview many prominent reporters.”

The most powerful moment of the week came during the Senior Bowl2 football players in a tense moment introduction press conference. Shaquem Griffin, a University of Central Florida defensive player, and very unique player in the football world given the fact that he lost one of his hands due to a birth defect, was present. David posed this question: “What advice would you give kids with any kind of disability?” Griffin responded with a powerful statement…“It’s not a disability unless you make it one.”

“Hearing his answer made me think, this guy is wise beyond his years and it would be a shame if he didn’t get a shot in the NFL. He has the mental toughness to be successful and to defy the odds – because he has been doubted his whole life. It was an inspiring moment.”

Living Out His Senior Bowl Dreams

After the first day, David met two of the best NFL local beat reporters. He learned that conducting a brief 2-5 minute interview with notable guests is a great way to collect large amounts of quality content and information. “I had the chance to interview Albert Breer, an American football journalist and reporter for Sports Illustrated‘s MMQB, and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the latest buzz in the industry,” David shares about his Senior Bowl dreams experience. “It was awesome! Unfortunately, his phone went off and we weren’t able to finish the interview.” David muses, “I have improved a lot in the past few years in my understanding of social cues, and the experience with Albert demonstrated it.”

Senior Bowl field with logoCenter for Independent Futures Life Skills Tutor, Jake Rohde, has been impressed with David’s determination and drive. “It has been great to support David, and to watch him go after his Senior Bowl dreams. He’s an inspiration!” David hopes to attend future Senior Bowls and similar events to keep building contacts, making connections, and boosting his profile. His ultimate goal is to develop a career in sports reporting. “I am fortunate to have my parents, friends, and family supporting me at every turn,“ he says. “Their constant encouragement motivates me to keep the train rolling!”

So, what does it feel like to be living the dream? “The best way I can put it is that I felt like a kid in a candy store AND the candy there was even sweeter than expected.”

Help David Achieve His Dreams

Visit David’s website: http://www.sportskrunch.com

Listen to David’s podcasts: http://www.sportskrunch.com/episodes-page/

 You may also find David’s podcasts on iTunes, the Apple Podcast App, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Search “Sports Krunch” to find the entire podcast listing.

ARC of IL 16th Annual QIDP Conference

ARC Illinois logo, ARC Conference theme is "Unite, Empower, Act"The Arc of Illinois will be holding the 16th Annual Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional (QIDP) Leadership Conference on January 23 in Alsip, IL. This year’s conference will feature John Dickerson, a leader in the field whose key career milestones included the transformation of services in Indiana – the closure of all state hospitals by creating community supports for the people who lived in five state institutions; lowering the waiting list from 12 years to less than 1 year. As a lobbyist and community organizer, he has seen the power of both the individual and those who come together to create change – make incredible progress.

John’s presentation will focus on “Making a Difference” by providing John Dickerson, presenter at ARC QIDP Conferencespecific tools to bring people closer to the people they support, more engaged with the organization, and feeling more supported and better about themselves. Participants will leave with specific, easy to use ideas that they can begin implementing tomorrow. John is the founder and CEO of Quillo, a unique new approach to the workforce crisis facing organizations serving people with disabilities.

Break out sessions later in the afternoon feature topics around Government Benefits, Healthy Relationships and Healthy Sexuality for People with Developmental Disabilities, and Creating Trauma Informed Organizations. Speakers include Sherri Schneider, President of Family Benefit Solutions, Inc., Susan Kahan, a member of the clinical staff at the University of Illinois at Chicago Developmental Disability Family Clinics and Krescene Beck, program coordinator for the Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance.

Arc of Illinois Belief & Mission

The Arc of Illinois truly believes that we are all people first and because of that, regardless of any developmental or intellectual differences, everyone deserves the same rights and opportunities. The Arc regularly hosts events to gather family members, self advocates, and professionals in the field and educate them on the latest and best practices.

California, Here We Come!

Logo for Club 21 in red with blue and green people illustrations to the left.With the bitterly cold weather hovering over the Chicago Area, three of the Center for Independent Futures staff will cheerfully head off to sunny California to present at the Annual “Tools for the Journey” Conference sponsored by Club 21 Learning and Resource Center. Club 21’s mission is to provide the educational tools and resources that enable individuals with Down syndrome to be fully included. Founded in 2009, the organization offers a variety of services for individuals and their families designed to support, educate, advocate and celebrate.

Meeting with Club 21

In April 2017, a phone call from Nancy Litteken, Club 21’s Executive Photo of Club 21 ED Nancy LittekenDirector, began our relationship with this eight-year-old California non-profit. We discovered very quickly that our values are the same, and that this organization has made incredible strides to support individuals and families in their area. As our conversations continued, Nancy and her team immediately saw the value of our Full Life Process™, and they are piloting the online application in California.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to bring our work to the west coast,” remarks Ann Sickon. “Nancy and her team are creative and innovative, and we anticipate a long relationship that will benefit both of our organizations.” Presentations at the “Tools for the Journey” Conference will focus on Center for Independent Futures’ Full Life Process™ online application, the Bridge Builders & Community Connectors Project to foster Community Inclusion, and our New Futures Initiative Training to create community-based housing solutions.

For more Conference information and registration, visit Club 21’s website.

Founders Reflect on Fifteen Years

More than fifteen years ago, Kay Branz and Jane Doyle came to a realization about the opportunities their daughters, Elise and Paige, would have available to them after graduating from high school. The conclusion was stark: the options that their daughters desired and deserved simply did not exist.

“To discover that there was really nothing to transition to for young adults with disabilities once they left the school system was breathtakingly eye-opening,” Kay said. “The two of us realized that if there was going to be any opportunity, we’d have to do something.”

From gathering at their kitchen table to gathering families who shared similar visions for their loved ones, that “something” became Center for Independent Futures in 2002. Today, Center for Independent Futures has supported hundreds of individuals with disabilities and their families through our innovative product and service models. And every day, our community members learn new independent living skills, achieve goals, and work toward their dreams.

Kay and Jane’s daughters have been no exception. When Kay and her husband, Glen, moved to Seattle, they knew that Elise had enough support to stay in her own apartment in Evanston, and she frequently travels to visit them. “The support Center for Independent Futures provides has helped Elise have a positive relationship with her family,” Kay shared.

Jane has also seen her daughter fulfill dreams since Center for Independent Futures was founded. From achieving employment goals to planning her wedding, Paige has defied any limits. “Paige has been my greatest teacher because she’s always surprising me,” Jane said.

Like Elise and Paige, Center for Independent Futures has grown in many ways over the past fifteen years. But although the staff and office are larger, the vision has remained the same, and success can be measured by each goal accomplished and every dream fulfilled.

“The greatest joy and testament to Center for Independent Futures’ founding and continued existence are all the individuals with disabilities who have been given the opportunity and supports to contribute to our larger community,” Kay said. “We are all the richer for their participation and contributions.”

Success Stories

tue07dec3:00 pm4:00 pmWalking Club - In Person

tue07dec6:30 pm8:00 pmArt Club - In Person

wed08dec1:00 pm2:00 pmBingo - Wednesdays - Zoom

wed08dec4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga - Wednesday - Zoom

wed08dec5:15 pm6:00 pmMeditation - Zoom

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