News

Winning Performances

On March 25, six Rimland clients participated in Special Olympics Illinois’ 2017 spring swimming event at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Individual events included the 25-meter freestyle and backstroke. All of Rimland’s participants received ribbons and some even received medals for their efforts.

 

We are very proud of all of our participants and look forward to upcoming spring games in the area of track and field.

 

A Promising Partnership

Rimland is pleased to announce a new partnership with the organization Connections for the Homeless. Connections for the Homeless is an Evanston-based non-profit that supports individuals and families that are homeless or are threatened with homelessness. The goal of our partnership is to connect individuals seeking employment with opportunities at Rimland. We see this as a way to strengthen the community in a mutually beneficial way, since Rimland provides opportunities for employment and full job training. Connections for the Homeless assists more than 800 individuals and families each year through the efforts of over 5,000 staff, supporters, and volunteers. To find out more about Connections for the Homeless, visit: http://www.connect2home.org/

Progress Report

Dr. Frank Karkazis of Preferred Dentistry in Evanston, a practitioner that treats Rimland clients, has remarked that he is seeing a “remarkable improvement” in clients’ dental health owing to the healthful menu that Rimland has implemented over the past two years. The menu was developed by a certified nutritionist and minimizes sugary foods. Our clients now have less plaque buildup and fewer cavities. This is a testament to our dedication to providing preventative healthcare in addition to reactionary care.

St. Patrick’s Pride

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on March 16 with Irish music and decorations for everyone. Clients got their own headbands or hats,

 

dressed in green, and made artwork.

It was a fun day for everyone and was very festive. We played Irish music through our sound system and also had a live band in the afternoon.

A New Resident Moves to Sesame Street

The long-running children’s television show Sesame Street has made history by introducing to the cast a new muppet character named Julia, who has autism. The appearance of the new character is not only significant because the show raises awareness and visibility of autism nationally, but also because Julia is female. Autism is under-diagnosed in girls because they don’t present the same apparent symptoms as boys, so this is an important effort by Sesame Street not only to teach children and other viewers about autism, but about also to highlight how autism affects girls specifically. Follow the link for more info about Julia and Sesame Street’s first new character in over a decade:

http://www.npr.org/2017/03/20/520577117/julia-a-muppet-with-autism-joins-the-cast-of-sesame-street

Rimland’s New Tech-Fitness Initiative!

With our new Tech & Fitness initiative, Rimland is seeking to enhance our Developmental Training program by combining technology and fitness to create engaging programming for the individuals we support. Donations will be used to purchase a T-wall and an EyePlay Interactive Wall. A T-wall is a flat, upright interface with numerous touch surfaces and red signals that light up in sequences of varying positions and speeds. The game challenges players to react quickly to deactivate the light as soon as it appears by quick touch. This universal training tool provides a fantastic cardio workout across numerous applications, including sports, fitness and rehabilitation.

The EyePlay Exergame Surface is an interactive video game which is projected onto the floor and allows multiple people to interact with it at the same time. With a wide range of games, kids and adults can be entertained for hours while running and jumping around. EyePlay will bring smiles to everyone who uses it, along with an elevated heart rate!

Both of these technologies burn calories and fat, improve motor skills, are very engaging, and allow multiple participants to interact at the same time at their own pace. Rimland strives to provide every opportunity for our clients to thrive and connect with the world around them. Please check out our gofundme site and our website to learn more about this project and to make a contribution to the important work we do. Thank you!

The Monster Jam!

As a reward for a job well done—ten Developmental Training participants put labels on bottle caps that are used at stores like Whole Foods—Rimland took clients on a February  outing to Allstate Arena for a Monster Truck Jam. This live-action show featured “breathtaking stunts and the awesome power of the world’s most popular Monster Jam trucks.” The clients were thrilled to witness this exciting event!

Homemade Love

To spread the love last Valentine’s Day, Rimland clients crafted original, homemade Valentine’s Day cards for the patients of La Rabida children’s hospital. Clients contributed to La Rabida’s program that appeals to the public to send valentines to the hospital to cheer children up on Valentine’s Day. This activity was especially rewarding for our clients, not only because they love doing art projects, but because it connected them to the community and made many children happy.

Superbowl Festivities

 

On February 5, Superbowl Sunday, Rimland hosted a Superbowl party at the Developmental Training Center, where residents from various Rimland homes gathered to watch the game, eat pizza, and hang out. Clients especially enjoyed watching the halftime show and the commercials.

February’s Birthday Bash

On February 28, we held a celebration for all clients with February birthdays. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed cupcakes and soda in our Snack Shop area, which was decorated with birthday signs and confetti. Over the past few months, participants have embraced this new birthday tradition and enjoy celebrating each other and learning how to sing the birthday song.

Food for Thought: Making Autism Studies Diverse

People from minority groups have traditionally been underrepresented in autism research, and genetic studies are no exception. For example, African-Americans constituted just over 2 percent of individuals in the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, a large repository of genetic information, in 2008. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the 2015 census.

Follow link to continue reading the article Making Autism Studies Diverse:

https://spectrumnews.org/opinion/q-and-a/questions-daniel-geschwind-making-autism-studies-diverse/

Zumba 2.0

Zumba!

After a hiatus, Zumba is back! A global fitness phenomenon, Zumba is a popular dance and exercise program that incorporates cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, and flexibility training with Latin and world music rhythms. We have rebooted our Zumba program to give clients more opportunities to get active.

The instructor, Marilyn, comes to the Developmental Training program on Thursdays for two hours and leads small group sessions. The clients really seem to enjoy the opportunity to get active and listen to the music. The Zumba program is in addition to ongoing weekly yoga sessions, ensuring that our clients are getting a lot more exercise. Everybody dance!

Happy Anniversary to the Employee Health & Wellness Program

Let’s Move!

This February marks the two-year anniversary of the Employee Health and Wellness program. As an employee benefit, Rimland covers the cost of an LA Fitness gym membership. At LA Fitness locations throughout Chicagoland, Rimland employees have access to the gym, weights, yoga, spinning classes, basketball courts, pools, saunas, and more. Staff who use their memberships consistently for 3 months earn a Fitbit Flex, a fashionable wristband that tracks fitness activities, including steps, distance, calories burned, etc. The program has been very motivational for staff to go the gym consistently, to work out, and to work hard. Our LA Fitness contacts, Andrew and Karen, have been very supportive and welcoming to Rimland. Congratulations to all our participants.

The Invisibility of Black Autism

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Clinical bias and ignorance have led generations of clearly autistic black children to be diagnosed with ADHD or even “mental retardation” instead.  Follow the link to read more about science, race, and the invisibility of black autism.   (more…)

More Home Improvements
New appliances were purchased for the home.

New appliances were purchased for the home.

Following the renovation of our Hartrey South residence in 2016 (thanks to a Community Development Block Grant), we recently completed renovations on another of our Evanston homes—our Fowler location—and the results are stunning! The renovation is part of our initiative to provide greater accessibility and independence in the Residential Program home environment.

Accessible showers are a feature in the renovation.

Accessible showers are a feature in the renovation.

Among other improvements, brand new appliances were purchased for the home. The residents are loving the new digs so far!

Technical Assistance
A bird's-eye view of the new tech room.

A bird’s-eye view of the new tech room.

Rimland is grateful to have received grant funding that we used to create a new tech room, which is now in use in the Developmental Training Center. We received the grant, called the Niles Township Grant, from Niles Township; Rimland has partnered with Niles Township for several years. The new tech room contains a smart TV, iPads, and desks. Clients are enjoying learning how to use the new iPads to access their interests, such as music and videos.

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These activities facilitate their independence and skill development. The iPads are also stocked with a few autism apps that clients use to work on their social skills and fine motor functions such as writing their names.

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Once we are in the swing of things with the iPads, we will purchase games for an Xbox Kinect, which will enable clients to exercise more through the use of technology.

A Happy New Year at Rimland
Happy Birthday, New Year!

Happy Birthday, New Year!

Rimland hosted a New Year’s Eve party for clients at our Developmental Training Center. Everyone was wearing their finest for the festivities, which included colorful decorations, drinking sparkling cider, eating cake, and enjoying the music provided by a DJ. Although the event took place during the afternoon, we did a “countdown” to the new year, which the clients really seemed to enjoy. At the end of the countdown, everyone shouted “Happy New Year!”

State of the Art
Carolyn Keel, Tina Jones, and Bridget Crump pose with the completed mural.

Carolyn Keel, Tina Jones, and Bridget Crump pose with the completed mural.

Bottle and Bottega of Evanston, a wine and art entertainment studio offering a fun, unique alternative to an ordinary night out, has partnered with Rimland for the holiday season! In November, the studio hosted a community-focused art give-back event, with a portion of the proceeds going to Rimland Services.

An early sketch of the mural.

An early sketch of the mural.

A work in progress.

A work in progress.

From November 18-November 28, Bottle and Bottega guests got creative and collaborated on a community mural as they mingled and enjoyed wine.

Bottle and Bottega guests work on the mural.

Bottle and Bottega guests work on the mural.

The artists at work.

The artists at work.

On December 5, representatives of Bottle and Bottega presented the community mural to Rimland’s Executive Director Carolyn Keel, Associate Executive Director Tina Jones, and Associate Executive Director of Compliance Bridget Crump, who also added a few finishing touches to the artwork. The completed painting will hang in the reception area at Rimland’s Developmental Training and administrative headquarters. Read the Chicago Tribune account of the Bottle and Bottega-Rimland partnership here.

A composite view of Bottle and Bottega guests.

A composite view of Bottle and Bottega guests.

One part artistic adventure and one part cocktail party, Bottle and Bottega is great for get-togethers with friends, creative corporate retreats, or any special events. Evanston is just one of their studios. They have multiple studios in Chicago, in the state of Illinois, and throughout the country.

First Ever Scorecard Grading Illinois Legislators’ Disability Support Stances

pencil-308509_640Illinois legislators are being graded on whether they’ve helped or hurt people with disabilities. The scorecard is believed to be the first of its kind, and comes from an organization led by concerned parents.

 To read or listen to the full story at NPRIllinois.org, follow the link here:
Illinois GOP Defeats Wage Increase for Direct Support Professionals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Republican state representatives stood firm with Gov. Rauner today and defeated an attempt to override his veto of a bill calling for a wage increase for workers who care for people with developmental disabilities.

Ed McManus, a consultant representing many of the state’s disability provider agencies, criticized the legislators shortly after the vote.

“What a shame that our representatives chose to turn their backs to the needs of our vulnerable citizens,” McManus said. “Nearly 30,000 Illinois residents with disabilities rely heavily on these workers to care for them day and night, but our state is unwilling to guarantee a living wage to them. Rates to provider agencies have not been increased in almost a decade, while the cost of living has gone up and up. Agencies are experiencing extreme workforce shortages. Illinois’ spending for developmental disabilities services is 42nd in the nation.

“When the governor vetoed the bill in August, he said it would cost too much money and the state had ‘no available funding’ to pay for it, but that’s because neither Rauner nor the legislature has been willing to compromise on a budget for the past 16 months. It’s a disgrace that the state has no budget, and it has impacted hundreds of thousands of citizens in addition to these people with disabilities and their workers. We should all rise up and demand that our politicians put aside politics and break the budget impasse without further delay.”

Today’s vote was to override the veto of a bill directing the Dept. of Human Services to increase rates to providers to enable them to pay workers $15 an hour. No Republicans supported the override, which required 71 votes in the House, three-fifths of the membership. The Democrats have exactly 71 members, but five of them were absent and two, although present, did not vote.

McManus Consulting, based in Wilmette, was established in 2011 by Ed McManus, who formerly worked as an attorney and an administrator for the IL Dept. of Human Services for 17 years, and before that as an editor and reporter for the Chicago Tribune in Chicago and Springfield. The practice has provided consultation to a total of 56 disability provider agencies over the past five years.