Jonathan’s Double Dutch Trip to The Netherlands and Belgium

Jonathan Shuman is a man who loves to travel the world, viewing the world in a positive and friendly way. He wants to share how he uses our philosophy of “create your journey” to live out his dreams. These are his thoughts from his trip to The Netherlands and Belgium.

Visiting Brussels, Belgium

Three adults stand in the middle of a street in front of intricate European-style buildingsToday, my Search Beyond Adventures group went to Brussels in Belgium. We had to wake up at around 6 am in the morning, and we ate breakfast at around 7 am in the morning. Then, a shuttle van arrived in front of our Amsterdam hotel. We got in the shuttle van, and it took about 2-3 hours to drive in the shuttle from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, to Brussels, Belgium. 

When we arrived in Brussels, the first thing we did was go to a chocolate factory called the Belgian Chocolate Village. We toured the chocolate factory and we learned how to make chocolate from cocoa beans which in turn originate from carob trees. Then, the cocoa beans are harvested. They are dried to prevent moisture, and they have to go through several different processes including a quality check. The cocoa beans are then shipped around the world to factories and are then crushed and formed into chocolate and milk is optionally added to the chocolate. We also saw models made out of chocolate such as the Atomium and Les Arcades de la Cinquantenaire. 

For lunch, we went to a Mediterranean restaurant called Snack Simonis. I ate a chicken wrap sandwich with French fries on the side. After that, our group went into the city of Belgium and we saw the murals of famous Belgian comic strip characters such as Tintin and Asterix and Obelix. I also got my photo taken in front of the iconic Manneken Pis which is the statue of a boy with water coming out of his genitals but it’s a fountain. We also did lots of shopping in Brussels. I bought a pack of stroopwafels that I’m going to give to my mother as a present and souvenir. 

An octagonal sculpture stands tall against the blue sky on a green strip of parklandIn the street, we danced to music by street musicians who did cover versions of songs such as “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. We also went to a cathedral and took photos inside and outside of the cathedral. Later, I ate a Belgian waffle with chocolate syrup on top. It tasted creamy and sweet and tender. 

For dinner, we went to a Belgian restaurant called La Rose Blanche. I ate meatballs in tomato sauce with French fries. It tasted tender and fresh. After our trip was over, we got back into the shuttle van and we drove for 2-3 more hours and we arrived back in Hoofddorp Netherlands. I had such a great time in Brussels, Belgium. It was pleasant visiting Brussels and speaking both French and Dutch.

Tomorrow our group will go to Delft to see a pottery store where the Dutch make blue and white colored pottery items such as plates and tablets, etc.

So for now, Au revoir and Tot ziens and have a goede vakantie.

Learning About Dutch Pottery

Today, we woke up at 7:00 in the morning and went downstairs to eat breakfast at 8:00. Then, we took the train to go to this little Dutch city called Delft. 

When we were in Delft, we went to this pottery factory where the Dutch make pottery that is colored blue and white. A guide gave us a tour of the Dutch pottery factory by a potter who showed us how pottery was made. Pottery can be made by molding a form out of clay, then it is kept in the refrigerator overnight. Then the artist paints the piece white. Next, the artist draws designs in black ink on the piece. After that, the piece is dipped into glaze which conceals the design. Finally, the piece is put into an oven where the glaze is removed and the potter paints the design blue and white. Voilà, there is a piece of pottery that’s completed.

A large building in Amsterdam against a cloudy blue skyAfter we took a tour of the pottery factory in Delft, we ate lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant. I ordered a chicken wrap sandwich with lettuce ketchup and mayonnaise and French fries on the side. After lunch, we strolled through Delft, Netherlands viewing the canals, cathedrals, and even a horse drawn carriage.

Then later, around 3-4 pm, we went back to the Hampton by Hilton hotel and we relaxed for a bit. We tried to eat dinner downstairs but unfortunately the bar that only serves dinner on 5 days – not Sundays. Instead we ordered dinner from a Hawaiian poke restaurant, which is located near Amsterdam Netherlands.

Tomorrow we might do one last thing before we head back to Chicago, Illinois, the next day. Until then, Goodbye or Tot ziens as in Dutch and have a goede vakantie.

Last Day in Amsterdam

Jonathan stands to the right of a green windmill in AmsterdamToday, we woke up at around 5 am and ate breakfast. Then, we went into the city of Amsterdam. Our first stop was to visit the Anne Frank House. This is the same house that Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. 

When Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany during the 1930s, the Frank family moved from Germany to Amsterdam where they hid in an apartment’s secret room concealed by a bookcase. They couldn’t make noises and they couldn’t run water or flush the toilet or they would be found by the Nazis. Miep Gies was one of the people who helped Anne Frank and her family hide from the Nazis. 

In 1944, one of the neighbors eventually found the Frank family and Nazis imprisoned the family. The Nazis deported Anne Frank’s family to Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp. Anne Frank died in August of 1945. Her diary that she kept with her when she was hiding with her family still survives even to this day. 

This reminded me about human rights and the negative effects of racism and intolerance inflicted by the Nazis. It also reminded me that human beings are the most destructive forces ever to roam the face of the earth. Humans are also responsible for the evils in this world such as they litter, they drive cars which emit carbon and they destroy the planet and human beings kill other people and animals for food as well. I still think fantasy is better than reality. Which do you think is better: humans or dragons? I honestly think dragons are better than humans.

A canal tour business in Amsterdam with turreted building to its leftAfter we took a tour of the Anne Frank house, we took a cruise ferry tour on an orange ferry along the Prinsengracht canal. We saw the architectural buildings and we learned about the history of the Netherlands and Amsterdam. During the 17th century, there was a Golden Age in the Netherlands when painters such as Jan Steen, Vincent Van Gogh, and Johannes Vermeer flourished.

After that, we took the Amsterdam tram from the city of Amsterdam back to Amsterdam Centraal and from there we took the train to Schiphol Airport. Finally, we took a shuttle bus back to the Hampton by Hilton hotel.

Tomorrow, Tuesday June 11, 2019, we have to wake up at around 4:30 am because our flight leaves at 9:05 am back to JFK airport. Then I will fly into Chicago from New York City.

I want to say Goodbye or Tot ziens to Amsterdam & Brussels. It has been a pleasure visiting. I’m going to miss you two. I hope to see you again someday in the future. Dank je wel.

Have a goede vakantie.

View Jonathan’s England and Ireland trip journals, starting with part 1. You can support participants to “create your journey,” this year’s theme for our spring event, by attending SPARK on Saturday, November 7th.

Celebrating Romantic Relationships Among People With Disabilities

These stories are excerpts from a previous publication entitled “New Visions: The Power of Dreams.” New Visions was published in 2011 with the support of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. Featuring the stories of 20 individuals with disabilities, this anthology reflects the possibilities for individuals who have support from their communities. (These stories have been edited for length.)

Carrie Robb

Carrie has dreams typical of many people. She wants a better job, she wants to own her own home, and she wants to get better control over her diabetes by eating better and staying fit. But what she wanted most in the world was to get married.

Carrie & her partner smile together on a couch in black and white photoWhen she talked about her dreams with her Dream Team during her first Full Life Future Planning™ session, she talked a whole lot about the picture of the bride and groom that she included in her Dream collage (with her boyfriend’s name under the picture of the groom).

The dream of marriage was not news to her team, but they didn’t realize how important it was to her until then. After all, she had already been living with her boyfriend for several years. During that first session, Carrie’s mother told her, “Carrie, if this is that important to you, I think we can make this happen.”

Carrie and her boyfriend picked the most romantic day of the year, February 14, for their big event.

Carrie picked out a beautiful, lacy, Valentine-pink dress for her big day and looked absolutely stunning. But the most beautiful thing about her that day was not her dress or her hair or the makeup she wore. The most beautiful thing about Carrie was the smile on her face! Now, she wears that same beautiful smile whenever she shares the pictures of her cherished day with people when they visit.

Michele Armistead

Michele took part in a group Full Life Future Planning™ process with nine other people. Throughout the class, Michele identified many things that were important to her during the classes as time progressed. Many of the dreams she identified for herself were simple (like a new desk lamp), and many were more involved (like getting married and getting a job).  Most of Michele’s dreams involved family and friends that were closest to her.

A white woman in black & white photograph from about a decade ago.Michele was very quiet during the initial classes, but grew more open over time. She let her network know she was interested in nursing, and then she found a way to get involved. She discovered she wanted to work with animals; she started working at a pet shelter and loved it.

She and her boyfriend also dreamed of getting married. They talked with their families and had a commitment ceremony and a reception to celebrate their love for each other.

Now Michelle says, “If it wasn’t for this experience, I wouldn’t be doing all the cool things I am now. I used to be scared to ask people for what I wanted. Now I realize that I will never get what I want if I don’t ask. The class taught me that it’s okay to tell people what I want.”

Jonathan’s Big Fat Greek Birthday Vacation

Jonathan Shuman is a man who loves to travel the world, viewing the world in a positive and friendly way. He wants to share how he uses our philosophy of “create your journey.” These are his notes from his trip to Greece, exploring the ancient sites and gorgeous isles.

Day 1: Leaving Chicago

Jonathan stands in front of ancient ruins in Greece as part of his "Create Your Journey" tripMy parents picked me up from Harrison House in Evanston, and Howard drove me to Chicago O’Hare International Airport where I would board my flight from Chicago, Illinois to Minneapolis, Minnesota. At Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, I waited in the traveler’s assistance section. Then, I would board a Delta Airlines flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Newark, New Jersey. 

When I arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport, I met my travel guide named Kailash Dhaksinamurthi. Originally, a person named Harry was supposed to go on the trip to Athens, Greece with me and Kailash. Unfortunately, Harry couldn’t join us because Harry possibly got mugged and had all of his money stolen and he didn’t have enough travel insurance to travel to Athens, Greece with Kailash and me. So it’s me and Kailash, just the two of us. 

We went to baggage claim at Newark Liberty Airport and we got my big black suitcase and I had to check in again, this time with Emirates Airlines. Kailash and I boarded our Emirates Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Athens, Greece. On the airplane, I fell asleep.

Day 2: Arriving in Athens

Gia sou which, in Greek, means Hello. Today I just arrived in Athens, Greece, with the travel organization Search Beyond Adventures.

An ancient building in Athens, Greece.When I woke up on my flight, I was above the Atlantic Ocean. The flight from Newark to Athens took about 10 hours traveling east. On the airplane, I was served scrambled eggs and potatoes for breakfast, and I had a cup of coffee with cream and no sugar to drink with my breakfast. I also watched a movie on the airplane called Green Book starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. It was a fantastic film. I would rate the movie Green Book an 8.5/10 because it was dazzling.

Around 3 pm, me and Kailash arrived at Athens International Airport in Athens, Greece. We also went to baggage claim and we got my big black suitcase and I also converted my United States dollars into Euros, the official currency of Greece. 

Kailash and I  took a taxicab to the Philippos Hotel located on Mitseon Street in Athens Greece. Later, at around 5:35 pm Athens Greece time, me and Kailash went out to dinner at Regal Bar and Bistro and I had a turkey burger with house cut fries for dinner and Kailash had a margherita pizza for dinner. The turkey burger tasted velvety and crisp and tender and moist and also a little salty. 

After dinner, we walked around the neighborhood. We saw orange trees and a cat that was perched on top of a car. You know how there are so many squirrels in USA? Well, there are lots of feral cats in Greece and Israel as well.

Day 3: Exploring Ancient Times

Gia sous (Hello) again everyone. This is Jonathan Shuman writing his journal and blog for Day 3 of my trip to Athens Greece with Search Beyond Adventures. 

Today, my tour guide, Kailash, and I ate breakfast in the morning at the Philippos Hotel on Mitseon Street in Athens. Later, we went to see the Acropolis of Athens, and we took a tour of all the architectural sites of the Acropolis, such as the Old Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion where the contest between Poseidon and Athena was held, the Theatre of Dionysus where musical contests were held in Ancient Greece. We also went to the Parthenon which is still under construction. However, rumor has it that when I turn 40 years old in 2029, the Parthenon will be completed. How cool is that? 

Later, me and Kailash went to Monastiraki Square and we went shopping and I bought 3 shirts one for me and one for each of my roommates. I also bought a tiny snowglobe and 3 postcards that I will give to my Solomon Cordwell Buenz coworker who is an American of Greek descent. 

A photo of a boat in Athens with a background of multi-colored buildings in the background.Later, me and Kailash ate lunch at the Monastiraki Square. After that, we took a tour of the Athenian Agora where there was the Library of Hadrian. I learned how the Roman Empire conquered and defeated civilizations such as the Greek Empire or Egyptian Empire. When invading Greece and Egypt, the Roman Empire burnt and destroyed buildings, and then they constructed and built their own new buildings. That is called imperialism. Other examples include the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, the Egyptians, and the Chinese and also the British Empire and the Russian Empire and also American imperialism.

After a long day, Kailash and I went back to the Philippos Hotel where we relaxed and took naps. Now as I write, we are having dinner and for dessert. I’m going to get chocolate cake to celebrate my 30th birthday which is today. Tomorrow, me and Kailash are going to take a boat tour and visit 3 of the Saronic Islands: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. 

Day 4: Grecian Islands

Opa! That’s what Greek people say when they celebrate an anniversary or a party or a birthday. This is Jonathan Shuman writing his Journal and Blog for Day 4 of my trip to Athens Greece. This part of my journal is about a tour of some Grecian islands. 

The first stop was in the island of Hydra, Greece, where two movies have been filmed: Boy on a Dolphin and Boat Trip. When we arrived at Hydra, we took a tour of the village of Hydra. Kailash fed the cats Edam cheese that he bought at a supermarket. On the island of Hydra, there are no cars. You have to either walk or ride on a donkey. 

After we left Hydra, our next stop was Poros. We climbed up a lot of stairs to see a clock tower on the promontory of Poros. 

The waffle Jonathan ate on his 2nd to last day in Athens, Greece.Our final stop was on the island of Aegina where I ate a waffle with chocolate ice cream and whipped cream and covered in chocolate syrup. It tasted rich and velvety and moist and creamy and crispy. On the boat cruise back to Athens, we listened and danced to authentic Greek music such as Zorba’s dance. 

What a day this has been.

Day 5: Going Home

Today, we went to Syntagma Square where we saw people run in the Athens Marathon. It was difficult to get to the other side to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We used the subway to cross, and we saw the Hellenic Parliament and the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Next, we went for a stroll at the National Garden of Hellas where we saw animals, like goats and turtles. After that, me and Kailash went shopping in the Plaka. For another coworker, I bought a blue Athens short-sleeved shirt and a tiny statue of Leonidas of Sparta.

View of a hillside in GreeceFinally, we went back to the Philippos Hotel and we rested and relaxed there. Later at night, Kailash and I went to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant called Bel Paese. “Bel Paese” means “beautiful town” in Italian. For dessert, I had a slice of apple pie, and Kailash had coffee with baklava for dessert. 

Tomorrow, me and Kailash will go see the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Then we will pack up our stuff and say goodbye to Greece. We are going home to Chicago, Illinois, ending my Big Fat Greek Birthday Vacation. 

Until next time, OPA!!!!!

View Jonathan’s England and Ireland trip journals, starting with part 1. You can support participants to “create your journey,” this year’s theme for our spring event, by attending SPARK on Saturday, November 7th.

Why Hire People With Disabilities?

What do you think it takes for someone to work in theatre? 

Immediate answers that might come to mind include an interest in drama, interpersonal skills, great communication, and an interest in learning new things. Thousands of people meet these qualifications – but how often do you encounter a person with disabilities working at the theatre?

People With Disabilities Working in Theatre

One of Independent Futures’ participants, Sarah, was working with a job coach from Jewish Vocational Services when she earned an apprenticeship with Piven Theatre. After exploring what Sarah might like to do for employment, Sarah’s job coach helped her get in touch with Piven Theatre. 

Sarah smiles during a photoshoot wearing a lavender shirt and using her wheelchair.Together, the pair went over tips and what to expect in informational interviews. Sarah’s dream job was to be an assistant teacher. “The best I thought I could shoot for was taking tickets,” Sarah said. But then, her informational interview took a positive turn. 

She was offered an apprenticeship where she could learn about teaching. After looking at schedules and options, Sarah accepted.

Learning New Skills & Building Dreams

Throughout her apprenticeship, Sarah worked with 4th-8th graders in Piven Theatre workshops. She got to know the students, and she was responsible for making sure they were safe. 

Interacting with the students as often as she could, Sarah was able to support the students in many ways. A budding writer herself, Sarah helped one student write a poem. This was one of Sarah’s favorite parts of her apprenticeship.

“The apprenticeship was an important way for me to get out to see what I want to do in terms of a degree or job and what field I want to go into. It was a way of finding myself,” Sarah shared. 

History of American Disability Employment

In 1988, the government announced October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. During this time, government agencies will publish articles and host events to highlight the opportunity to hire individuals with disabilities. Corporations will tout statistics about how many people with disabilities they hire. 

New Skills Inventory client practices her kitchen skills.For the rest of the year, startlingly high unemployment rates for people with disabilities persists. We dream of a day when more individuals with disabilities have opportunities like this one that Sarah had, when community employers discover the gifts that individuals have to share.

Before we get there, we need to understand where we have been and the milestones that advocates before us have achieved. Employers without disabilities sometimes think that there are limits to what someone with a disability can achieve, but these employers are proven wrong over and over. Over the last century, people with disabilities’ fight for employment equality has been long, hard, and limited by perception.

Beginnings of Anti-Discrimination Legislation

In the early and mid-twentieth century, only physical disabilities were eligible to receive public services and benefits for disability employment. When the Smith-Fess Act passed, the act established vocational rehabilitation for people with disabilities – but only physical disabilities. 

In 1945, President Truman announced “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” Later, the word “physically” was removed, making the week more inclusive in the 1960s. Eventually, this week turned into National Disability Employment Awareness Month, dedicating more time to the need for employment among the disability community. 

Expansion of Civil Rights 

By the ‘60s, creating inclusive spaces became increasingly important. While the courts had not caught up, President Kennedy introduced the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. This committee explored ways that people with disabilities of all kinds could be included in every day life. 

two individuals preparing food at a soup kitchenIn 1972, the Independent Living Movement was born partially in response to President Nixon’s veto of the Rehabilitation Act. Later passed in 1973, the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on someone’s disability by federal agencies and contractors. The Independent Living Movement is alive today, working to protect every individual’s right to choose where they live and how they are supported in community. 

It wasn’t until 1977, when the government implemented Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, that people with disabilities gained civil rights. This was also when legislation acknowledged every student’s right to be in a public classroom. The precursor to supported employment, the “Try Another Way” campaign, was also born paving the path for us to where we are today.

Redefining Ability & Disability

Through the 1980s, the U.S. passed several pieces of legislation that supported individuals with disabilities’ employment prospects including the Job Training Partnership Act (1982) and the Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act (1986).

The Americans with Disabilities Act was finally passed in 1990, expressly prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in hiring or career advancement. Since then, the perspectives of employers have been slowly evolving with the help of the federal government.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit passed Congress in 1996, providing tax credits to businesses that hire people with disabilities. The government’s support led to an increase in community employers hiring disabled employees. 

Beyond the Americans With Disabilities Act

Woman's Club and Center for Independent Futures volunteer to make soupSince 1990, disability continues to be defined and redefined again. The Olmstead Act promoted community-based, independent living whenever possible. Recently, the ADA Amendments of 2008 altered the definition of “disabled” so it is easier to establish eligibility for protections. 

Since the Obama administration, the federal government’s employment agencies have supported integrated employment policies. This includes updating and improving access to services, implementing accommodations, and community outreach. 

Why Should Businesses Hire People With Disabilities? 

There are tons of reasons to hire individuals with disabilities, not the least of which is that they are just as capable as able-bodied employees. In fact, employees with disabilities are excellent problem solvers, stable workers (30% higher retention), safer in the workplace, and more productive.

Plus, much of the disability community is an untapped market. There are 56 million Americans with a disability of some type. The discretionary income of people with disabilities of working age alone is $21 billion. Add into this number individuals’ connections, like family and friends, and businesses realize they are missing a huge market share.

Most accommodations for employees with disabilities cost nothing. The majority of accommodations that employers pay for cost less than $500 – and this cost can be offset by the tax credit businesses receive for hiring employees with disabilities. 

Sarah smiles in foreground of photo with two women standing behind her, one in green and the other in blue.At the end of the day, there are many reasons to hire people with disabilities and very few reasons not to. Ability is not a marker of a great employee; many individuals can work successfully without accommodations while allowing a person with disabilities to grow and achieve their dream. 

For Sarah, her apprenticeship at Piven Theatre was a big milestone. Her experience “marked the first time I had a job that wasn’t through a friend. I had to show up on time. More importantly, I had to do it for somebody else.” 

 

How to Reduce Costs of Care Without Sacrificing Quality

Families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities face many difficult decisions. From choosing how to manage care to determining how an individual can live in the community, none of these decisions are easy. But it is possible to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of care.

Determining What Supports Are Necessary

Man holds out microphone to young woman in front of small audience.Happiness is one factor in many families’ decisions. The costs associated with care are another concern. According to data from 2009, the average cost of a person with disabilities living in an institution was more than $180,000 a year. For someone living in a community-based setting with supports, the cost is closer to $42,000 per year. 

These home and community-based services costs are averages and don’t reflect how costs are distributed. When individuals need more support, it is possible that community-based care could cost more. But for many individuals, learning life skills reduces costs by decreasing the amount of support needed for everyday activities. 

For families who aren’t sure independent living is an option, a life skills assessment is a great place to start. An assessment can help you and your loved one understand where they need more support. This helps your family can decide what care costs your loved one truly needs.

How Learning Independent Living Skills Reduces Costs

Photo of two women smiling, one a direct service professional and one a participant.When direct service professionals focus on teaching life skills, such as cooking healthy meals and cleaning their home, an individual’s need for support in skill areas decreases. Learning life skills like these doesn’t only help individuals with disabilities maintain their spaces. It also helps them build community connections and employment skills.

Increased skill capacities have the potential to reduce staffing costs and limit the need for support. In fact, an Independent Futures direct service team member shares, “After learning life skills, the hope is that an individual is able to reduce tutoring hours. And most of our participants are able to do so, saving money and living independently as a result.”

While most individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will always require support, their potential remains limitless. By using life skills tutoring and person-centered planning, new windows of opportunity are within reach.

Impact of Person-Centered Planning

Person-centered planning takes place when direct service professionals account for the individual’s existing skills, hopes, and dreams. This type of care results in individuals setting their own goals and learning the skills they need to achieve their dreams.

That is just one benefit of person-centered plans though. In addition to self-directed goals, individuals with disabilities seem to have fewer requests for specialized care. Part of the reason why could be related to what funds are used for when a person’s hopes and dreams are considered. 

Volunteer supports participant in volunteer activityHome and community-based services funds have the potential to be used for a number of non-medical needs. Supports like employment help, remote monitoring equipment, and peer services aren’t traditionally covered. But with home and community-based services, access grows. Each of these supports can help an individual with disabilities achieve their dream of living in a community.

Reduced Costs and Independent Futures

For most people, moving out of our family’s home is something we look forward to excitedly. Finding the perfect apartment or house, decorating it to fit our own style, and having new freedoms changes someone’s life. Many individuals with disabilities have this same dream. 

Knowing that loved ones are able to advocate for themselves will provide you with renewed peace of mind. Learning independent living skills and living in the community means families of adults with disabilities can reduce costs without sacrificing quality and rest easy. 

 

How We Prepare for Bike the Drive

For the last four years, participant Caleb Streeter has joined our Bike the Drive Dream Team biking up Lake Shore Drive. Over these four years, the event has become a family tradition for the Streeters. Caleb’s father, Bill, joins the Dream Team too, and together they typically bike from Buckingham Fountain to Sheridan. But this year Caleb and his dad are looking for a challenge.

Caleb and his father smile at the camera, both wearing purple shirts and blue helmets“We’re going to start from downtown and go all the way to Sheridan this year. That’s 15 miles,” Caleb explains. “Plus, me and my dad’s church friend wanted to accompany us this year. We’ve been talking to him about it, and he decided this is the year to do it!”

Biking with the team is part of what makes Bike the Drive so much fun for Caleb. “It’s more enjoyable than riding by myself. I like having a person to talk to, somebody watching me. My dad and me are used to it because back home we bike together too.” Biking Lake Shore Drive with a team also means that Caleb can look out for his friends and family, and they can help him too.

How Caleb Is Getting Ready

Caleb wears green, the same as Lindsay on the left. Caleb is preparing for his 15-mile bike ride with longer rides, especially since the weather is finally getting warmer. But first, he needed to get his bike checked out at Wheel & Sprocket after the long winter. This year it was time for some upgrades for Caleb’s light gray Giant Revel bike. “I had to install new wheels because my old fat tires were getting hard to lock up outside my apartment, so I got thinner ones.” Caleb continued, “My bike seat was old and it kept getting loose. The bicycle people said I should get a new seat. It would just slip out, and I couldn’t deal with that anymore!”

In preparing for Bike the Drive, Caleb demonstrates responsibility and enthusiasm, but he knows to ask for help when he needs it. His tutor, Ricky, supported Caleb in figuring out how much air should go in his tires and how to secure his bike better after his old bike was stolen. With Ricky’s help, Caleb is more confident and safer when he is biking.

Caleb is excited to continue participating in Bike the Drive and our Bike Club. The club meets on Wednesdays, and Caleb joins Activities Director Jeff Morthorst and several other participants in biking around Evanston. The group often bikes around Northwestern University or along the lakeshore.

How You Can Help Caleb & the Dream Team

Caleb and his dad prepared for Bike the Drive together and stand in front of colorful mosaic wallThe Dream Team fundraises every year to support activities Independent Futures provides like Bike Club. Every dollar donated helps to keep our activities calendar full of exciting events. If you donate today, the funds you contribute will support supplies for Art Club, snacks for Saturday Cinema, and bicyclists in getting to and from Bike the Drive.

Explaining his favorite part of Bike the Drive, Caleb shared, “Doing Bike the Drive, you have a different vantage point than what you would normally see. It’s fun! I’m getting excited about it! The more people the better!”

With the support of our generous community, we hope to continue providing participants like Caleb with opportunities like Bike the Drive for many years to come. Donate today to help the Dream Team achieve their goals!

“I Feel Valued Here”: Person-Centered Approach

Image features Jenny wearing a pink turtleneck, pink scrunchie in hair smiling at the cameraStrolling down the aisles of Jewel-Osco on Chicago Avenue in Evanston, it’s easy to bump into Center for Independent Futures’ participant Jenny Mottola. Whether she is working a shift or doing her own shopping with her life skills tutor DeeDee Block Goldman, Jenny brings vibrant energy and joy to her community.

Jenny’s Full Life

Jenny, in pink, stands with her boyfriend Nestor, who wears a black and white flannel shirt.Originally from California, Jenny has called Evanston home for more than 25 years. In addition to supporting Jenny in traditional ways, DeeDee helps Jenny pursue new, healthy interests. “Both me and my boyfriend Nestor have to be on a Mediterranean diet, so we cooked shrimp scampi. It was delicious!” Jenny said. “But, we have only cooked once. We need to cook more!” To help them stay on track and be healthy, Nestor even got Jenny a new Mediterranean cookbook.

Jenny’s mother Jackie Mottola observes, “Jenny needs support about how to advocate for herself and how to be safe living on her own. I think those are things that Center for Independent Futures has really helped her with.” Beyond safety, Jackie explains how Jenny’s involvement enriches her life. “One of the most wonderful things about Center for Independent Futures is that all of the team members know her relationships, good and bad. They support her in relationships with young adults, even those who are not in the program. There is no hesitancy to help Jenny and her roommate, who is not a regular participant, in making their relationship as good as it can be.”

Jenny poses with a friend, who is wearing a lighter blush shade of pink.Every Thursday morning for the past 7 years, I am given the great gift of spending time with Jenny,” said her tutor DeeDee. “She is living a fabulous independent life in her own apartment in Evanston. She has a rich social life, successful work history, and she is constantly growing as she creates her unique dreams and follows them.”  DeeDee adds, “I am honored to be able to support her in continuing her journey and growth.”

Impacting the Community

By living her full life, Jenny improves the community around her. Her mother observed, “I will be with Jenny miles away from Evanston, and somebody will run up to give her a hug because they know her from the grocery store. There isn’t a trip that goes by that we don’t run into somebody who wants to tell me how Jenny brightens their day.”

“I love the philosophy that you have to try things, you’re not going to shelter people, and you have to learn from experience.” Jenny’s mother continued, “You have to teach them how to be safe in their lives, and then let them go out and do it, make mistakes and learn from them.”

Jenny, in pink, poses with her mom who is wearing a gray shirt with red neck line.When asked if she would recommend Center for Independent Futures to a potential future participant, Jenny answered quickly. “Yes! Because it’s a great thing to do, and because you’ll learn a lot of things that should be learned. I think Center for Independent Futures gives a lot more support than other programs. It makes me feel happy. There are a lot of great people here who can really help. I feel valued here – more like home.”

 

Jonathan’s Jolly Old Trip to England & Ireland, Part Three

Jonathan Shuman is a young man who loves to travel the world. He sees the world in a positive, friendly way, and he wants to share his travel recommendations with all of you. This is the final England & Ireland installment of Jonathan’s new travel series, Jonathan’s Jolly Trips.

Tower of London in front of a clear blue sky with a tree to the right.The next day, we went to the Tower of London where prisoners were being held by the beefeaters or Yeomen during the War of the Roses in the mid-1600s. We also took a river cruise along the Thames river, and we saw many famous buildings such as a pub owned by a British actor named Ian McKellen. We also saw the Royal Naval College. We learned about the Greenwich Mean Time – if you go west from this point, you subtract the hours. If you go east from Greenwich, you add the hours.

We packed and we left for our trip back to Chicago the next day. The flight lasted 6-7 hours. On the airplane, I watched two movies: Game Night with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and Lady Bird with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe. I had such a blast going to England and Ireland with Search Beyond Adventures. I took lots of photos, and I emailed some of these photos every single day by email to CIF participants and my parents. What I learned about Ireland is that it’s green all around. That’s why Ireland gets its nickname, the Emerald Isle. In England and Ireland, you have to drive on the left side.

Jonathan standing in front of StonehengeI would recommend England and Ireland as a travel destination for the summer. I recommend it because lots of people are happy, drink beer, and are friendly. There are lots of sights and wonders to marvel at. There’s lots of live music to enjoy in London and Dublin.

I would recommend England and Ireland as a travel destination for someone who has a disability because they are bound to have a fantastic time. It’s pretty easy to get around if you have the skills of using public transportation. People are nice and friendly. It’s accessible to get around if you are bound in a wheelchair, and they speak English so there is no language barrier.

Thanks for reading this article and stay tuned for travel recommendations for my next trip to Athens, Greece!

Jonathan’s Jolly Old Trip to England & Ireland, Part Two

Jonathan Shuman is a young man who loves to travel the world. He sees the world in a positive, friendly way, and he wants to share his experiences with all of you. This is part two of three in Jonathan’s new travel series – catch up on part one here!

a busy Temple Bar in Dublin, IrelandThe day after we hiked to Glendalough, we took a stroll of the Temple Bar district in Dublin, Ireland. We also took a tour of the Wall of Fame where famous Irish musicians held their place in the Irish music industry such as U2, Thin Lizzy, Enya, Sinead O’Connor, The Corrs, and Celtic Woman. We also ate dinner in an Irish restaurant and we listened to traditional Irish music. One of my favorite Irish foods that I ate in Ireland was the traditional Irish breakfast which consisted of an egg, blood sausages, 2 pork sausage links, mushrooms, ham, bacon, and roasted tomato. Another favorite food that I tried in Ireland was the fish and chips, which is beer battered cod fish with chips – or as the Americans call them, French fries.

The next day, we flew from Dublin, Ireland, to London, England, via Aer Lingus airlines. When we arrived at London Heathrow Airport, we took a shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn Express hotel located in Stratford, London, England. The first thing we did in London was we went to Westminster Abbey. It was closed to the public unfortunately.Jonathan and his friend, Ross, outside of Windsor Castle

The next day, we took a shuttle bus and we traveled to Stonehenge in England. Stonehenge is a collection of Neolithic stones that the Druids constructed. The Druids were a Celtic tribe that practiced an earlier form of Christianity. We also learned what life was like during the construction of Stonehenge. For example, people had to live in huts. They didn’t have the technology to move the stones, so they moved the stones by their hands. After Stonehenge, we went to Windsor Castle where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent their honeymoon.

Westminster Abbey when it was closed to the public.

The next day, we went to Buckingham Palace and we saw the changing of the guards. We didn’t actually see Queen Elizabeth II – maybe because she was busy doing something else. After the changing of the guards, we took a tour of the interiors of Buckingham Palace. We also went back to Westminster Abbey, and we saw the interiors of Westminster Abbey this time.

Watch for the third installment of Jonathan’s travel series to learn about the Tower of London and discover his recommendations for England and Ireland!

Jonathan’s Jolly Old Trip to England & Ireland, Part One

Jonathan Shuman is a young man who loves to travel the world. He sees the world in a positive, friendly way, and he wants to share his experiences with all of you. This is part one of three in Jonathan’s new travel series,

Jonathan standing in front of a rock at Berkshire National ParkMy name is Jonathan Shuman. I’m 29 years old. I live independently in the Chicagoland area. I currently work as an office assistant at an architecture firm called Solomon Cordwell Buenz in downtown Chicago. I’m a huge fan of world travel. Some of the places in the world that I’ve been to include Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, St. Martin, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, France, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. Today, I want to share my experiences from my recent trip to England and Ireland with Search Beyond Adventures.

On Thursday, September 20, 2018, my mother Joelle picked me up at Photo of Aberdeen Lodge with large garden surrounding circular signHarrison House in Evanston, Illinois to take me to Chicago O’Hare International Airport where I would meet the tour guide and new group of friends that I would be traveling with for the next 9 days. It was a normal flight and our flight from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland lasted 6-7 hours long. When we got to Dublin International Airport, we went to the Aberdeen Lodge which is a Victorian-style hotel that’s located at Park Avenue in Dublin, Ireland. I was roommates with my new friend David who is from Hastings, Minnesota.

When we were in Dublin, Ireland, we did lots of fun stuff. We went to places such as St. Stephen’s Green and Christ Church Cathedral, which was built at the time that the Tudors ruled England. We also went to the Guinness Brewery and I learned how beer got its name from barley which is used to create beer. I tried a Guinness draught beer, and it tasted very strong.

Image of Wicklow Mountains, green pastures surrounding a lakeThe next morning, we went to the Wicklow Mountains and the Sally Gap and we went to Glendalough, a tiny town in Ireland, which is home to a monastery built by St. Kevin. The monastery is called Sevenchurches. Over the course of its 1,000-year history, it has been raided by the Irish clans, the British, and the Vikings. That same day, we took hikes and we went to a lake located in Glendalough and we watched the sunset. One cool thing that I saw was a tomb that was used as a filming location for a TV show called Vikings starring Alexander Ludwig.

On the next installment of Jonathan’s new travel series, find out who is on the Ireland Wall of Fame and some of Jonathan’s favorite parts of England! Stay tuned!

Success Stories

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