Imagine! Voices Blog

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Imagine! Voices provides a forum for folks in the Imagine! community to share what is going on in their lives and reflect on their experiences. Imagine!
Updated: 4 hours 36 min ago


June 26, 2017 - 12:59pm
This week’s write up features Imagine! participant Jessie, who celebrates recent progress with achieving her goals. 

Earlier this month, Jessie, passed her driver’s license exam with flying colors.

“I was really nervous. I asked her how I was doing and she told me I was doing great. Whew! That made me feel better. Before we even got out of the van after the test, she told me that I passed.”

Jessie and her friend purchased a GMC Safari Minivan – 1997, with pedal extensions already installed to meet her needs. “It’s old school.”

Jessie also recently started taking classes at Front Range Community College.

“I’m just taking the electives right now so I can get my Associates Degree. My ultimate goal is to get a degree in social work. Not sure exactly what I will do with it, but I know that I’m good at working with kids and people with disabilities, just not sure which one I want yet.”

On behalf of Imagine!, congrats Jessie for pushing yourself to achieve your goals - it's very inspiring!


June 23, 2017 - 10:45am
Betty accepts services from Imagine! and lives on her own in Boulder. (Betty and I chatted in her apartment and she gave us permission to write up her comments). 
Pictured below is Betty and her two birds, Pepper and Angel. 

I grew up in Pittsburgh and at that time, they didn’t have the type of programs for me they have here. I grew up with animals, dogs and cats, but we had to get rid of them as we moved around a lot for my father’s work.

I’m 69 years old and I have learned to push yourself and take what you can get. When I moved to Colorado over 30 years ago, my sister taught me how to take care of myself … how to use my fork, use the restroom, get dressed, and more. I have worked at a restaurant in Boulder for 26 years and had to be on my feet a lot, serving people, folding napkins, and cleaning bathrooms.

I participate in Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). It’s a human rights group and we advocate for rights of people with disabilities. I want everybody to love each other and don’t like to see hate. Be kind and give presents to people all the time, not just at Christmas time. To those kids who want to get married, it’s none of my business, but take your time. Be patient for everything and understand people.

One of my favorite memories is a long time ago, when I was visiting my nephew at his house. His daddy told him to get on his lap so he would calm down before bedtime. He said, “no!” His mamma asked him, “Why aren’t you listening to your daddy?” And my nephew responded, “I want Aunt Betty’s lap!”

Nick O'Connor: Instructor and Musician

June 16, 2017 - 11:49am
Nick is an Imagine! employee and has worked in the field of intellectual/developmental disabilities for about ten years. In addition, he is a singer/songwriter and has been playing music since he was 13. I sat down with Nick to learn more about these two passions of his: 

 1) What inspires you to write and play music?
I was kind of an awkward kid growing up. Wasn’t good at sports. Felt like I didn’t have much to give and wanted to express myself in a way. Started playing songs and playing guitar. That’s one thing I did that got me positive attention in school. Pouring my heart out in a song feels good, kinda like an anti-depressant. The performing is just as important as the song writing. I don’t think I could just write a song for other people. I like getting my message out there.

2) How did you get into this line of work, assisting individuals with developmental disabilities?
I have a passion for the line of work we’re in. We work with a population that isn’t talked about a lot and we’re still fighting for their basic rights. I have a heart for stuff like that, that’s why I’m in this field. I want to help people. 

 We were doing karaoke in a music class at CLS Longmont. One of our student’s sang “I feel like a motherless child.” She started to tear up. I told them that if you get emotional with music, there’s no shame in that. We proceeded to watch YouTube videos of songwriters talking about their songwriting process and how it goes beyond feeling happy. I think they were hip to that. To share that and get a positive response is meaningful to me.

3) What are your music goals right now? Any big projects?
In the next couple of months, I am recording an EP. My goal is to record a series of 4 EPs and release them every six months. I’ll be writing music on my own. Sometimes I bring people in to bounce off ideas. I’m going to work with Clark Hagen on these EPs. He’s a genius. Did some stuff with Chet Atkins back in the 90’s and on a record that won Grammys.

Click here to visit Nick’s website. You can listen to his original tracks and see where he is playing next.  

Free Furniture and Electronics From Former Imagine! Group Home

June 14, 2017 - 11:24am
Imagine! is clearing out its former 19th St. Group Home (1836 19th St, Boulder) in anticipation of selling the property, and will be giving away some items that we won’t be able to reuse.

For the next couple of days the items, including furniture, cabinetry, and electronics, will be in front of the property and FREE for the taking. You just need to provide the labor and the vehicle to transport the item. Some stuff it is in very good shape, other stuff perhaps not so much, but beauty (and need) is in the eye of the beholder, so if you can get there feel free to help yourself.

The items will be available until Friday afternoon (June 16). Below are pictures of just a few of the available goods.

Errorless Learning

June 12, 2017 - 1:37pm
Errorless Learning By Dr. Jeff Kupfer, PhD, Imagine! Consultant
We perform skills throughout our lives, but performing competently often requires a combination of precision or finesse, along with a minimum of errors. Both are necessary — a fancy omelet cannot include eggshells.

Performance errors often discourage learning. We may try harder when we perform slightly under par, but frequently walk away if we commit errors that results in financial loss, harm to ourselves or others, social embarrassment, and so on.

Persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities may encounter this same effect and become discouraged with learning, in general. Learning situations have an impact on all Learners. When skills are not taught well, or taught with frequent reprimands and few words of encouragement, it is not surprising that Learners who stand to benefit resist or reject teaching plans. My own observations in Planning Meetings lead me to suggest many Learners will agree to participate in teaching plans, but only if the role of the Instructor is strictly casual advisor – there in spirit only, providing neither guidance nor correction.

Errorless Learning uses instructional methods specifically designed to prevent or substantially minimize any Learner errors. This is readily accomplished by providing the maximum amount of support to the Learner in the earliest stages of learning, and then gradually reducing these supports until the skills remain intact with little or no support required (Terrace, 1963). There are three components to this method: (1) prompting, (2) fading, and (3) backward chaining.

Some steps in learning skills require prompts to complete, perhaps starting with several hints or clues provided by the Instructor until the skills are performed more accurately. We can provide these prompts to ourselves (such as Post-it Notes) to improve our self-management skills.

Once these skills are performed with accuracy and few errors, prompts can be faded until the skill is performed without any external support.

In the Figure directly below, a Learner may practice writing the letter “E” using a complete sample of that letter. Successful reproduction of the letter leads to a new sample that contains less of the previous sample and invites more letter-writing by the Learner with less prompt. This fading process can continue until the Learner writes the letter without requiring a sample.

From Sidman, 2010
If you have ever been in a school play perhaps you learned your part by studying a script, reading it directly at first, then covering up portions as you learn it well. Or maybe you learned to sing a song using the written lyrics at first, then removing them as you improved. We often use a model or sample of printed information as an example of the correct way to do something and gradually reduce its influence.

In backward chaining, a skill is taught from the end of the activity to the beginning. A bow to a shoe is pulled tight by the beginning learner and immediately encounters the benefit to a tied shoe. Once this is mastered, the Learner can begin to learn how to make the bow, naturally leading to the step of “tightening the bow” which has been mastered and can be performed independently.

Thus, all the steps in the activity are “taught backwards”. If there are 10 steps to teaching a skill, we start with the last step (Step 10) which results in the Learner coming into direct contact with the accomplishment. Then, we teach Step 9 which, when completed, naturally leads to Step 10 — a step that has been mastered and requires no prompting.

This process continues until we teach the very first step of the activity as the last step. Once Step 1 is mastered, steps 2-10 should be performed with little or no errors, and no prompting In the example below, A Learner can to write his name, first with the entire sample, then one letter at a time. The letter “E” is well-learned in step 2 so that when step 3 is introduced and completed correctly, the sample for “E” is no longer required and the name can be completed without prompting.

 From Sidman, 2010
Of course, not everything needs to be learned in this manner. When we have already learned a skill, but have not performed the skill for some time, we may need a few prompts just to get the ball rolling. That is, we only require a minimum amount of prompts. We may say: “Okay, I have it now… let’s take it from the top.” Think Frank Sinatra…

On the other hand, newly acquired skills or ones that haven’t been performed for years may benefit from a greater amount of supports. Errorless learning techniques have been used in education for decades, particularly when the skill to learn must be performed with accuracy and when there is little room for error. More recently, errorless learning has been used in rehabilitation settings and has produced improved outcomes and sparked motivation in participation. Therapy-related skills are acquired more rapidly with less frustration and with greater success and satisfaction.

Sidman, M. (2010). Errorless learning and programmed instruction: The myth of the learning curve. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 11, 167-180.

Terrace, H.S. (1963). Errorless transfer of discrimination across two continuua. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 6, 223-232.


June 9, 2017 - 3:35pm
Today's post features an Imagine! participant, Eric, who accepts Out & About services:

My name is Eric and I was born in Denver, CO. I was born with a handicap which had a great impact on me, it’s called CP for you all do not know, here is a little background on this. There are a lot of disabilities and that does not mean that you can’t do the same as those who don’t, it means that you are slow at things and you may need some help. So that’s what I got. When my mother and father had me they wanted to do everything in their power to help. I couldn’t speak that good or walk. So mother and father put me in children hospital and there they teach how to walk and work on my speech, but mostly on my walk. I did not want to some days. My dad told my mom to make sure “Eric get down here and do the exercises that the hospital told him to do.” It was a big part on him, and it work for me and I did that for about 13 years and now I am 55 and doing great. And for that I got my mother and father to thank. They really were great at that and that's how I walk and talk a little better now.

Now I did have a woman in my life when I was 13 or 14, she was good and caring about me. We went out for about two or three years. At that time I did not understand it at all, all I knew is that she love me and I love her. After school was out and if I did my homework, I could go out and see her. Each time I went to her house we go out like a park or something like that and it was a good feeling to see her each time. But we sat down one day and we hold hands and we talk and talk and she told me that she was seeing someone else and that hurt me a lot. She told me what she wanted and it made me upset for couple of weeks, seemed like. But I got over her slowly and since today we are friends but we don’t see each other anymore but I would love to see what has become of her. But who knows maybe we will. I had speech all through school and did good and people that helped me thought I was getting really good at my voice and I had work very hard on it. I made lots of friends. Got out of school with A+ and A’s. Got a good job for about 22 years and retire. I found Out & About and it has been great to me. Lots of cool people and we do things that are pretty cool. I think I had hard times but got over that, lets just say things are looking up.Thanks mom and dad, never will forget the good old times we had. Love, your son,           Eric

Cheer Central Suns

June 6, 2017 - 1:59pm
Brittany, Kacey, and Ashleigh accept services from Imagine!'s Out & About, and have become good friends over the years. Their friendship started outside Imagine!, however, at a training facility in Denver, practicing tumbling and cheers. These three belong to the Cheer Central Suns squad and compete every year, across the country. This year in Orlando, FL, their team took 1st place at Worlds Competition. 
I spoke with Brittany and Kacey about their experience on the squad and learned what it meant to be a Cheer Central Sun.  
Kacey - "It's nice to be on stage with all of my teammates. We earned the award together and worked hard for it." 
Brittany - "The coaches are friendly and it gets me out of the house. I started in high school and this was my 10th season. We work as a team and help each other out."
The sense of team that Kacey and Brittany reflected on has helped them grow as individuals as well. Their parents chimed in during the interviews to say that they both have become more confident and independent individuals throughout the years. Kacey's mom, Michele, commented that the gym treats them like any other athlete and expects them to work hard at each practice. 
(Pictured from left to right: Coach Michelle, Brittany, Kacey, Ashleigh, Coach Sloan)

Innovations Super Hero of the Month

May 15, 2017 - 11:49am
Every month, Imagine!’s Innovations department presents the “Super Hero of the Month” award to the employee or provider who has best demonstrated excellence in one or more of our Innovations Quality Standards:
  • Health, Safety, and Wellbeing 
  • Effective and Efficient 
  • Respect and Dignity 
  • Opportunities 
  • Integrity 
  • Care 
This month, the award was presented to Victoria Laverty, who is the Site Supervisor for the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome.

Victoria was nominated by the site Nurse Case Manager, who wrote:

I would like to nominate Victoria Laverty for the Super Hero of the Month Award. The Bob and Judy Charles Smart Home has been short-staffed recently, and Victoria has done an amazing job in making sure the house runs as smooth as possible. Victoria has been working the floor as well as being present at the house for long hours, and has maintained a smile throughout. Besides being the Site Supervisor and keeping the house running, she also solves everyday problems of the house and the individuals that live there. Problem solving and getting things done through logistics is an everyday task for Victoria and she does it with a chuckle and smile. Victoria has done an amazing job!

Victoria shows compassion to the individuals of the Bob and Judy Charles Smart Home. When you step into the house you know it is a home. Please give Victoria the recognition she deserves for going the distance to keep shifts covered and the Bob and Judy Charles Smart Home running.

If you see Victoria around, please congratulate her on being our Super Hero of the Month!

Imagine!’s Innovation is Showing - Come See the Pitch & Help Us Win $10K!

May 10, 2017 - 10:39am
Since a shrinking workforce and low unemployment in the county are making it hard for Imagine! to recruit and retain direct support professionals, we have created an app, similar to Uber, to offer “on-demand” short shifts to tap into potential employees who can't/don't want to work full-time. We are starting with CU students. We are calling the app “Imaginect.”

Meanwhile, the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County is working with tech startups to provide early stage corporate philanthropy by pledging 1% of their resources to nonprofits (called Pledge 1% Colorado). Out of this, they created a Nonprofit Pledge 1% Pitch Contest as a part of Boulder Startup Week.

The Pitch Contest, through an interactive and fun event, seeks to recognize and support entrepreneurial and innovative nonprofit ideas to solve pressing problems and critical issues facing Boulder County. Their goal is to support organizations in developing and testing new solutions to community challenges and leveraging investment to achieve impact. We submitted an application on the “Imaginect” on-demand employment app and we were chosen as a finalist to pitch the idea and could win $10,000!

The Nonprofit Pitch Contest is Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Boulder Theater. We will make a 3-minute pitch, and the audience and a panel of judges will vote on the winning pitch. Please plan to attend, cheer us on, and vote! You can register by clicking here (it is free).

Check out the video and flyer below for more information on Imaginect.

 Can’t see the video? Click here

Community Living Side By Side: Gerlad's Story

March 23, 2017 - 7:30am
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The goal of this month is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, tell stories of people who live with a disability, and show their lives. This year’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month has a campaign theme of “Side By Side” to highlight the many ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. Each week is being set aside for focus on one aspect of that theme.

The different elements of the theme fit in well with Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities, so today we’d like to share a video about an individual who accept services from Imagine!, and whose story demonstrates this week’s theme - Communities Side By Side: Community Living.

If you haven’t seen Gerald’s story yet, get ready to learn how this remarkable man has developed a full and active life in the community despite significant challenges.


Imagine!'s Leadership Development Group Update: March 2017

March 22, 2017 - 7:30am
 Imagine!'s Leadership Development Group Update: March 2017Submitted by Jessica Gaylord
Pictured above (left to right) are Kathryn Craig, Jessica Gaylord,
Cameron Navis, Alicia Burdick, and MacKenzie Haering
February 15 was the Alliance Awareness Day at the Colorado State Capital. A day when Colorado legislators recognized the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) community, as well as the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who support individuals accepting services.

The day started in the Capitol, where two people accepting services in Colorado recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the action started! I sat in the gallery above the Senate Hearing area and watched as different bills were presented and our elected representatives voted on amendments. When Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 17-009 came up, several different state representatives took the stand to share their stories and experiences. It was heartwarming to hear stories from people who don’t work directly in this field, but have still been inspired by someone living with I/DD. After several stories and a few happy tears, a unanimous ‘yes’ vote confirmed that the state will continue recognizing February 15 as a day to celebrate the I/DD community and to continue to support the potential of all – sound familiar?

The second half of the day was spent in a gallery area of the Denver Art Museum. The room was packed with people in celebration of Alliance Awareness Day – State Legislators, Imagine! CEO Mark Emery, people receiving services, and DSPs from a handful of organizations including Imagine!’s own Nicole Jackson who was nominated as our 2017 Direct Service Professional Honoree. Keynote speakers shared stories and thanked the room at large for all their hard work to help the people we serve achieve their goals, but they noted that there’s still room to grow and awareness to spread. However, all their stories faltered in comparison to the speech delivered by Rose Medina.

Rose was born with an intellectual disability. She stood before us and read a speech that she wrote, talking about the trials she endured in school and as she grew up in Texas. She was told she would not be able to read. “But they were wrong” she then read to the crowd. Since moving to Colorado ten years ago, Rose has become gainfully employed, enhanced her independence at home, and now she enjoys a fulfilling and more independent life. Her energy and pride lit the room; she even gave herself pats on the back throughout her speech. What a great reminder for the room at large of what a difference we can become in someone’s life.

The day was full of inspiration, love, and laughter. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it because it reminded me of the positive impact we all have on the people that we all serve.

Sometimes working in this field can be hard, it can be frustrating, it can feel overwhelming, but this event helped remind me of the valuable opportunities we have as Imagine! team members. Everyone here at Imagine! deserves to be recognized for his or her achievements in this field; it may not be much, but from me to you – thank you for all that you do and the impact you’ve made in creating a world of opportunity for all abilities! I’m proud to be a part of this organization and to work with such amazing people – #allthefeels.

Safety First for Adults

March 21, 2017 - 7:30am
 For more information and registration, please contact Julieby email at, or by telephone at 303.527.0888 ext. 228.

Working Side By Side: Joe's Story

March 16, 2017 - 7:30am
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, tell stories of people who live with a disability, and show their lives.

This year’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month has a campaign theme of “Side By Side” to highlight the many ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.

Each week is being set aside for focus on one aspect of that theme. so for today, we’d like to share a video about an individual who accepts services from Imagine! and whose story demonstrates this week’s theme - Working Side By Side: Employment. The video tells the story of Joe, and how through his work and volunteer efforts he makes a meaningful contribution to his community every day.

Can't see the video? Click here #DDawareness17

Case Management Unsung Hero

March 15, 2017 - 7:30am
  Case Management Unsung Hero: March 2017Submitted by Meagan Rountree Imagine!’s Case Management department works with many great people. To show how much they are all appreciated, each month they choose an “Unsung Hero” within the department. Case Managers, support staff, and Case Management supervisors all put in nominations describing what the person has contributed to Case Management to go above and beyond to support those we serve.

For March, we’d like to recognize two from our team, Alyssa Ulrey and Chris Barker, as this month’s Case Management Unsung Heroes.

Below is some information which shows why Alyssa and Chris were selected as this month’s recipients by our Case Management team:

Since Alyssa took over her current caseload she has had a client facing significant challenges including abuse of different substances and a family that seems to negatively influence his choices. It appears tough to support him and get him to engage in services. Alyssa has worked hard to find creative ways to meet his needs. She did this with compassion and no judgement of his supports and situation. Alyssa has spent hours on his case and gone above and beyond. Eventually, this client switched to a waiver that better suited his current needs.
Chris is a new Intake Case Manager, who has taken a lead role in a very difficult emergency enrollment. This individual lived up in Greely and was going to be homeless in a few days. Chris took the time to drive up to Greely four separate times, take this client to Social Security, look for resources in the area, and hunt down a hard to obtain Professional Medical Information Page. Chris showed a determination and dedication towards this person that was inspiring for those around him. We are excited to see this continue with other individuals on his caseload. Way to go, Chris, you have now set the bar high!

When you see Alyssa and Chris please congratulate each of them for their hard work and dedication.

Out & About: Celebrating 20 Years of Service

March 14, 2017 - 7:30am

Out & About (O&A)  is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! To honor this milestone, they're collecting and sharing stories and memories from current and past employees, from the families and individuals they serve, and from the many businesses that support the work of O&A. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

Click here to visit the O&A 20th Anniversary page where you can click one of the categories to see the stories.

Would you like to share your story? Contact Fred Hobbs at

Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award: March 2017

March 10, 2017 - 7:30am
Congratulations are in order for Nichole Ricke, who works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) team, on being selected as the March 2017 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.
Here’s some information from Nichole’s nomination, which ably demonstrates why she was selected as this month’s recipient:

Nichole brings an awesome atmosphere to CLS. She is always smiling and in such a great mood that it inspires those around her, even in tough times. She is extremely patient and understanding with the individuals that we serve and takes the time to slow down and make every experience a learning opportunity. Nichole is also very self-motivated and has worked on several projects in the past year. She has been working with an individual with an extensive behavior plan who attends only community based services. Typically, we have a sort of "primary" for this individual who knows his plan very well, but in this case we haven't for a while. Nichole volunteered to do an in-depth training for this individual and has taken a leadership role in learning who he is and how best to interact with him, and even did an in-depth training on his behavior plan for all of our staff. We have been trying for the past few years to get our "Project RISE" program going, involving in-depth community independence and job skills, but it had fallen through several times. Nichole has been instrumental in getting this program moving and has taken a lead in the process. She created an extensive curriculum, determined class activity days, and has provided each individual with a progress journal that they can write their daily activities in. The ongoing success of the program is due to her diligence in creating quality services and supports for those we serve!

Great work, Nichole, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

Learning Side By Side: Emily's Story

March 9, 2017 - 7:30am
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, tell stories of people who live with a disability, and show their lives.

This year’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month has a campaign theme of “Side By Side” to highlight the many ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. Each week is being set aside for focus on one aspect of that theme, so for today’s Facebook post we’d like to share a video about an individual who accept services from Imagine!, and whose story demonstrates this week’s theme: Learning Side By Side - Education.

Check out this video about Emily, who through hard work and the support of many surpassed all expectations.

Can't see the video? Click here.

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD)

March 7, 2017 - 7:30am
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is March 21. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

Click on the logo below to learn more about WDSD.