What Safer-at-Home Means for You and The IC

Dear friends,

Starting this week, Colorado is transitioning from the stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home phase. Although residents are no Image of hands holding houselonger ordered to stay at home, we are being strongly encouraged to do so whenever possible. However, those considered at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are being asked to continue following stay-at-home recommendations, only leaving home for medical care and essential activities.

I encourage you to read more about the new safer-at-home phase and what that means to you at https://covid19.colorado.gov/safer-at-home.

So what does this mean for The Independence Center? While some non-critical businesses have started reopening with restrictions and reduced staff, here at The IC our physical buildings remain closed to outside visitors, with only essential personnel working onsite. We are working on a plan for a gradual reopening but we’re taking it one step at a time. We must ensure that we have the proper precautions in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep our staff and our consumers safe. As soon as we have a plan, we will make sure you know.

In the meantime, please remember that The Independence Center’s staff is still here for you if you need peer support, advocacy, or other services during this time. Just call us at 719-471-8181 or email us at info@the-ic.org.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

Scholarships Available to Students Training to Be Certified Nurse Aides

With the rise of COVID-19, many individuals find themselves without jobs while the Happy woman at computerdemand for health care workers continues to increase. The Independence Center (The IC) hopes to address both issues by providing scholarships to 38 students in its Certified Nurse Aide Training Program (CNATP).

The scholarships are possible thanks to a $28,500 grant The IC recently received from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation (CSHF). Available on a first-come, first-served basis for students with training program start dates between June 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the scholarships will cover $750 of the program’s $950 all-inclusive tuition, leaving each student with a cost of only $200. (Note: Students who are already sponsored through a sponsoring agency are not eligible for this scholarship.)

Interested applicants can apply on The IC’s website at https://bit.ly/cna_scholarship. They will be required to complete a 500 – 1000 word essay on why they want to be a CNA and what they plan to accomplish as a CNA. The remaining $200 tuition payment is also required at the time of enrollment.

The IC’s CNATP, which is located at 711 S. Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, is a four-week long program approved by the Colorado State Board of Nursing. Students who complete the 104 hours of course work and clinicals are eligible to take the state board exam to become a CNA. Once training is completed, individuals can work for up to 120 days as a CNA before taking the exam, allowing graduates to get to work quickly.

“CNAs serve a vital role in the health care industry,” said Indy Frazee, Home Health Administrator for The IC. “They perform essential duties, in both hospital and home settings, that can help save lives.”

The funds from CSHF, which provides grants that target immediate health care needs and encourage healthy living, will help The IC address both local unemployment and the nationwide CNA shortage. Currently, there are more than 800 open CNA jobs listed on Indeed.com in the state of Colorado; almost 10% of those are in El Paso County. At the same time, nearly 300,000 Coloradans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Newly trained CNAs will help alleviate pressure on the health care system while supporting their household and stimulating the economy.

“Colorado Springs Health Foundation is honored to support the work of The Independence Center,” said Cari Davis, Executive Director for CSHF. “Our grant to support the development of the CNA workforce is one way that we can help address the health care workforce shortage. COVID-19 presents the most recent example of how important these (and other) health care workers are to a healthy community.”

Individuals interested in more information about the CNA Training Program or the scholarships can call The IC at 719-648-1020.


A Note from Patricia: Know Your Health Care Rights During COVID

Image of Patricia Yeager with the words A Note from PatriciaDear friends,

We all appreciate the heroes in the health care field who are putting themselves on the front lines for our safety. But unfortunately, some are being hampered by hospital or state policies that can be used to deny lifesaving care to certain patients.

Forbes magazine recently published an excellent and unsettling article about health care discrimination people with disabilities are facing during COVID-19 called The Disability Community Fights Deadly Discrimination Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic. According to the article, “States and individual hospitals started to draft or reveal previously developed scarcity policies that either explicitly or implicitly excluded people with disabilities … not just on an individual basis, and not only as a secondary, knock-on effect … but in some cases categorically, by diagnosis and certain arbitrary measurements that have little to do with COVID-19 survivability.” (Click here to read the article.)

In light of this, I want to make sure you know the rights of people with disabilities when it comes to medical care, especially during COVID-19.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with physical or mental disabilities have a right to access equal medical care and alternative communication methods. This means:

  • You can access the medical care that you need like everybody else. You cannot be denied a ventilator or other forms of emergency care due to your disability.
  • If you are Deaf or hard of hearing, you can request captions, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, or other communication methods that work for you.
  • If you are blind or have low vision, you can request written material in large print, braille, or in an electronic computer file.
  • You can request pictures or simple words to help you understand information.

*In certain cases, medical providers may legally deny a service animal if the animal is causing cross-contamination or causing undue harm. Call The Independence Center at 719-471-8181 if you have questions about assistance animals.

If you need to go to a hospital or medical facility, you can:

  • bring assistive equipment with you, such as a ventilator, cane, or wheelchair;
  • bring a trained service animal with you in most cases*;
  • bring a support person with you unless they are sick;
  • ask for help with follow-up care and services.

For more information about disability rights in health care, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund offers a comprehensive overview. Please bookmark it for easy reference in case you ever need it.

Image of stethoscope

How to advocate for your health care

Even in the best of times, advocating for one’s own health care can be difficult. However, you can make it easier by preparing ahead of time. Take a look at the ideas below and then think about additional things you can do that relates specifically to your own disability.

Do you need assistance during medical appointments or have special instructions for working with your disability? Consider writing your disability needs and communication preferences down on a placard and bring that with you to the hospital.

The National Association of the Deaf has created a toolkit for preparing for a hospital visit, which advises people to bring communication tools with them, like a pen and paper, and a whiteboard or a smartphone. Although geared toward Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, this can apply to people with other types of disabilities as well.

How to advocate for others

Whether you have a disability or not, it’s important to be vigilant about advocating for yourself and each other.

Learn about ways you can act now to advocate for people with disabilities by visiting the #Nobody is Disposable website. And if you have personally experienced or witnessed discrimination based on disability, share your story with the Center for Public Integrity.

Remember, we at The Independence Center are here for you if you need peer support, advocacy, or other services during this time. Call us at 719-471-8181 or email us at info@the-ic.org.

If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

A note from Patricia: How about some good news?

image of patricia yeager with the words: a note from patricia

Dear friends,

These days, it seems that everywhere we turn, there’s bad news. And because we’re all so connected through our computers, tablets, and phones, it can feel impossible to escape. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that all this negativity can take a toll on our physical and mental health.

But even during the most difficult times, there’s good news in the world. There are people helping others, beating the odds, connecting in new ways, and making the best out of a bad situation.

Today, I encourage you to take a breath, turn off the bad news for a while, and read through the uplifting stories below. Remember, we will get through this…together.

21-Year-Old Student Makes Face Masks for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

“The lack of masks has prompted people to simply make their own. However, college student Ashley Lawrence noticed that no one’s making masks for the deaf and hard of hearing community. As the numbers of coronavirus cases are rising, it’s important for people to have essential medical items, so Ashley decided to join the cause by making her own masks for those in need.” [READ MORE]

Image of video. Click for full story.WWII veteran recovers from coronavirus just in time for 104th birthday

A “resilient” 104-year-old man who lived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II has now recovered from the coronavirus. William “Bill” Lapschies contracted the virus at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Oregon. He first started showing symptoms on March 5 and been isolated in his room, but…he is considered recovered from COVID-19. [READ MORE]

A Neighborhood Celebrated a Teen’s Last Chemo Session with a Coronavirus-Appropriate Parade

Last June, 15-year-old Courtney “Coco” Johnson was diagnosed with cancer and since then, has endured two surgeries and dozens of chemotherapy sessions. Recently, she completed her final chemotherapy session and got to leave Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) for the final time. Because she was unable to have a traditional celebration due to COVID-19, dozens of Coco’s neighbors decided to surprise her with a socially distanced “reverse parade” on her street. [READ MORE]

Smiling woman with dogPet Fostering Takes Off As Coronavirus Keeps Americans Home

“Animal shelters across the U.S. say they’ve placed record numbers of dogs, cats and other animals as people suddenly find themselves stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.” [READ MORE]

Colorado communities continue to show solidarity, howl together at 8 every night

“Growing night after night, neighborhood by neighborhood, men and women, children and dogs join in howling and cheering, to the point where the collective voices weave into an echoing song in the night. While people howl for different reasons, many see it as a chance to celebrate the medical first responders on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.” [READ MORE]

Good News, Colorado: Social Distancing Is Likely Paying Off

Image of meme with the words we're all in this together“Coloradans have been social distancing to various degrees for about three weeks now in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. For such an active, adventure-loving population, those three weeks have probably felt more like three years. And at this point, we’re all likely wondering: Are these social distancing measures actually working? According to Gov. Jared Polis, the answer is yes.” [READ MORE]

Do you have good news to share about someone who is helping others during COVID-19? Send us a message through our Facebook page. If you don’t have Facebook, feel free to email us at marketing@the-ic.org.



Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181. If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

A Note from Patricia: Creative Ways to Connect During COVID

Dear friends,

This week, the governor extended the state’s Stay-at-Home order Image of Patricia Yeagerthrough April 26, 2020, which means at least a few more weeks of social distancing for most of us. But even though it’s necessary to maintain physical distance right now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t connect with one another. In fact, it’s more important than ever! We just have to be a little more creative about it.

Here are a few ideas for connecting with friends, family, and the community during COVID-19.

Put technology to use.

Imagine being alive during the pandemic of 1918. At that time, social distancing meant being isolated from everyone and everything outside of your house. Thankfully, in 2020, we can use technology to socially connect with friends and family, whether they’re next door or halfway across the world.

Send a quick “thinking about you” text. Call each other the “old fashioned” way over the phone. Stay up to date on social media. Or set up a video date to share coffee or a meal together. If you’ve never set up a video call before, click here for a great guide to get you started.

Join a community event online.

Many groups are moving events online as a way to create shared experiences. Reach out to your favorite local theater or music group to find out if they have any live-streaming events. Or look for educational opportunities or webinars that allow you to interact in real time.

Here at The IC, we invite you to join us for these live virtual events via GoToMeeting.

  • My COVID-19 Health and Wellness Plan
    April 15, 1pm-2:30pm

    This learning session will offer ideas for sustaining your physical and mental health and teach you how to utilize your support circle during social isolation.
  • The Healthy Food and Gardening Learning GroupImage of pots with seedlings
    Begins April 20, 1pm-2:30pm

    Learn about and share ideas for healthy recipes, how to make the most of staples in your home, food resources, and how to grow vegetables and fruits in your home.
  • Mindfulness Learning Group
    Begins April 21, 11am-12pm

    Discover the benefits of mindfulness, different types of mindfulness practices, and ideas for starting a personal practice and making it your own.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to RSVP, please email Carrie Baatz at cbaatz@the-ic.org or call 719-471-8181, ext. 116. After you RSVP, you will receive instructions on how to join the meeting. Please let Carrie know if you need accommodations like captions or an ASL interpreter.

Volunteer to help.

When there’s a crisis, one of the best things we can do is to lend a helping hand. While volunteering in person is not an option for many of us right now, there are a number of virtual ways to get involved. (Note: The IC is not directly involved in any of the resources listed below. Please vet each group/site to determine if it’s the right fit for you.)

Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181. If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager

A Note from Patricia: Coping with Social Distancing & Isolation

Dear friends,Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC

Since Colorado governor Jared Polis issued the state’s Stay-at-Home Order, most of us are primarily confined in our home, only leaving for quick trips to gather essentials. While these measures are essential to reduce exposure and flatten the curve, this sudden change in our lives can have an impact on our mental and physical health.

During this time, you might find yourself experiencing:

  • Anxiety, stress, worry or fear;
  • Uncertainty or ambivalence;
  • Loneliness;
  • Anger, irritability, or frustration;
  • Boredom or restlessness;
  • Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much;
  • Symptoms of PTSD such as hyper-vigilance (feeling easily startled), feeling trapped, distressing memories, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts.

These feelings are a normal part of crisis and stress. That’s why it’s helpful to take intentional steps to care for ourselves and each other. Here are a few tips we’ve put together to get you started:

Create a new routine.

Consistency and structure can help create stability and a sense of control. Having a plan for your day can alleviate uncertainty and stress. For example, if you are now working from home, try to start and end work at the same time each day.

Eat well and stay hydrated.

Good nutrition and hydration is critical to maintain your health and boost your immune system. Check out these tips from the World Health Organization on Food and Nutrition in Self Quarantine. And if you need emergency food resources, please contact us at 719-471-8181, ext. 140.

Take a break from the news.

It seems that bad news is everywhere you look these days. Make sure to give yourself breaks from the news and social media, while staying up to date by connecting with credible sources of information such as WHO, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).

Move your body.

Physical movement can lighten our mood and release stress and tension. A change of scenery can also do wonders so, if possible, get outside for a walk or bike ride. Just be sure you’re keeping six feet between yourself and others. The YMCA also offers virtual workouts and our partner Morgen Thomas at Yoga Studio Satya is presenting a free adaptive yoga class every Thursday at 4pm MT. For more info, contact her at moezone2001@yahoo.com or 719-201-3186.

Start a new hobby or project.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for? Now’s your chance! Dive into some new books. Take a virtual art class. Start growing your own food. Learn a new language. The possibilities are endless!

Discover a TV show, movie, or podcast.

With all the ways to access television shows, movies, and podcasts, there’s something out there for everyone. Whether it’s watching old reruns of Bob Ross painting “happy little trees” or listening to a podcast about a favorite topic, these are great ways to escape!

Use grounding tools.

To help center yourself and alleviate anxiety, try different grounding tools to see what works for you. Play music or nature sounds, unwind with an adult coloring book, take a hot shower, play with your pet, dance, walk outside and take a few deep breaths, or practice meditation.

Connect with loved ones.

Social distancing means it’s more important than ever to reach out to friends and family. Call, text, connect over social media, do video dates over coffee or a meal. (In next week’s post, we’ll be offering even more ideas how to connect and create community.)

Remember, all of us at The Independence Center are here to support you. Just give us a call at 719-471-8181.

If you have a more urgent mental health need, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844.493.8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

Stay well,

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center

CEO Corner: Working to Make Health Care Accessible to All

Over the last two years, The Independence Center (The IC) has been working hard to make medical and dental care morePhoto of Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC
accessible for people with disabilities. Through our IC Fund, created to honor our founder and her late husband, we have donated nearly $150,000 in accessible equipment and other tools to Medicaid/Medicare primary care and dental providers in the Pikes Peak region. By helping health care professionals take a larger role in providing accessible health services through disability-friendly equipment, The IC Fund committee hoped it might start a trend among other health care providers.

Last year, the IC Fund awarded accessible tables with built-in scales and Hoyer lifts to nine select Medicaid/Medicare medical practices in the region who had been nominated by patients. Medical practices love the tables because it helped them provide more comprehensive exams to their patients with disabilities. Many patients reported that it was life-changing knowing that their practice was fully prepared to accommodate them. For example, people with invisible disabilities were relieved that they could simply sit down on the table rather than being asked to “hop up” on it. Others appreciated the security of being safely transferred via the Hoyer lift instead of worrying about falling or being dropped. Some were just thankful to finally have an accurate weight after many years of “guesstimates.”

This year, we awarded accessible dental equipment to four area dental practices: Briargate Advanced Family Dental, Simply Kids Dental, Mission Medical Center, and Community Dental Health. They will receive Versatilt wheelchair lifts, medical masks with clear windows that allow patients to read lips, a complimentary ADA accessibility audit, and complimentary disability
competency training for staff.

The dental groups were officially recognized at a celebratory luncheon here at The IC and they were so enthusiastic about getting the equipment! They each brought their entire staff to the luncheon and stayed for an introductory session on disability competency training. We anticipate the Versatilt lifts to arrive in the Pikes Peak area sometime after the first of the year, and their staff will be trained how to use it.

I write for the entire IC Fund committee and our board of directors to say how thrilled we are to be able to make physical health and dental care more disability friendly in the Pikes Peak region. One’s health is precious and must be taken care of to live a long, independent life. In a few years, we’ll see if our investment sparked others to purchase disability-friendly medical equipment for their patients.

For a list of locations of medical and dental practices that serve people with disabilities, visit bit.ly/accessiblemed.

If you’ve had the chance to use the accessible exam tables or Versatilt lifts, I’d love to hear about your experience! Drop off a postcard at The IC or send me an email at pyeager@theindependencecenter.org.


Art of Accessibility Celebrates Diversity


Art of Accessibility spreadOn September 6, 2019, the halls of The Independence Center (The IC) buzzed with activity duringits award-winning Art of Accessibility (AoA) event. As part of the Downtown Partnership’s First Friday Artwalk, AoA showcases brand new exhibits that honor the visual artistry created by people with disabilities and their community. The works of 40 artists were on display, and encompassed a wide variety of media including pixel art, acrylic, metal art, watercolors, pencil drawings, photography, and mixed media.

For the first time at the event, The IC also celebrated the art of the spoken word with an Open Mic Night. Participants signed up for a 3-minute slot and shared stories, read poetry, sang Karaoke, or performed stand-up comedy.

Bethany Monk, Development Manager at The IC, coordinated the event with the help of nine volunteers. According to Monk, AoA offers something for everyone.

“From experienced artists, to artists who are new to showcasing their work, The Art of Accessibility draws an array of talented people who turn our downtown building into a beautiful art gallery where creativity is encouraged and celebrated,” she said. “Our gallery is also unique in that most of our artists attend the event. This gives people the chance to really get to know the artists and talk to them one-on-one about their artistic process.”

The next Art of Accessibility event will be held on September 4, 2020, and The IC is always looking for new artists. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, visit bit.ly/theicaoa, email ArtOfAccessibility@the-ic.org, or call 719-471-8181, ext. 222 for more information.

Assistive Technology Q&A

If you have a disability, there are numerous tools and equipment available to help you live a full, independent life.Man in wheelchair using a puff/blow device to control a computer The Independence Center can guide you toward resources that can help you obtain various types of assistive technology (AT). Learn more below from Paul Spotts,  IL Specialist – Assistive Technology, and Stacy Gibson, IL Specialist – Hard of Hearing Emphasis.

What is assistive technology?

Paul Spotts (PS): It’s any kind of technology that helps individuals throughout their lifetime – whether it’s work, play, driving, etcetera – to become more independent. It includes things like durable medical equipment, car lifts for scooters, and ramps for vehicles. It also includes home modifications like ramps and roll-in showers.

Stacy Gibson (SG): For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, there’s also technology like pocket talkers, hearing aids, amplified phones, and captioned phones.

What does The IC’s Assistive Technology Program do?

PS: A lot of times people think that we actually have the equipment here or can get the equipment for them. But that’s not the
case. What we do is talk to you and figure out what you need. Then we guide you toward the resources that are out there, like funding sources to help you pay for the equipment.

SG: We also have some accessible demo equipment here – like phones – that consumers can try out to determine if it will help them.

Are there other specialists at The IC who can help with AT?

PS: Yes. Matthew Ruggles is our IL Specialist – Deaf Emphasis. He has information about technologies like the Home Aware system, which alerts you to things like a smoke detector, an alarm clock, or the doorbell ringing by using flashing lights and a bed shaker. He can also connect Deaf consumers to a company that can help them get a free video phone.

For people who are blind or low vision, they can speak to Jeannette Fortin or Matthew Morris, who are our Older Individuals with Blindness (OIB) Specialists. They help people with technology like text-to-speech, closed circuit televisions (CCTVs), and ZoomText, which is a program on the computer that enlarges the screen.

What kinds of funding resources are available?

PS: There are two to three main grants people can apply for. I don’t write the grants for the consumer but I can give them the grant paperwork, explain it to them, and offer advice. Then it’s up to them to fill it out. After they give it back to me with all the documentation, I review everything and then submit the online forms based on what they’ve given me. I try to have them apply for as many grants as possible. That way, they hopefully won’t have to pay out of pocket. But every case is different,
so I do let them know that there’s a possibility they may have to pay something.

SG: On the hard of hearing side, I help people navigate the application process of a couple of different programs. One is HEARS (Hearing Education & Assistance by Rocky Mountain Sertomans), which supplies hearing aids to eligible applicants. There’s another program through the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind to help people get amplified phones, cell phones, iPads, and caption phones.

How do people get started?

PS: Current consumers of The IC can make an appointment to talk to any of us. People who are new to The IC will complete an intake with Maritta in Information and Referral to discuss the services they want help with. If someone is blind or low vision, they start with Jeanette. If they’re Deaf, they start with Matthew, and if they’re hard of hearing, they start with Stacy.
Anyone with any disability can start with me; if I can’t help them, I can always direct them to where they need to go.

What do you like most about your job?

SG: I like talking to people and helping them figure out the best option for them. For instance, if hearing aids won’t work for them, let’s try a pocket talker.

PS: It’s great being able to help somebody obtain whatever they need to open up their life.

To learn more about assistive technology, watch our video at bit.ly/Assistive_Tech_IC. If you’d like to talk to someone about available resources, call 719-471-8181.

For the Thrill of It: Adaptive Go-Karts Fulfill the Need for Speed

On a bright, sunny afternoon, the sounds of revving engines and screeching tires vibrated through the air as drivers sped Photo of man transferring from wheelchair to adaptive go-kartaround a racetrack. Jockeying for position, the looks on their faces ranged from steely determination to pure joy. One driver made a point to wave at his biggest fan – who also happens to be his wife – each time he completed a loop.

When the race was over, the competitors transferred themselves out of the go-karts and into their waiting wheelchairs. They compared times, discussed strategy, ribbed each other good-naturedly, and reflected on how the experience made them feel.

“I’m a thrill seeker,” said Lisa Harrison. “I love fast. I love dangerous. I love risky. This was awesome to be able to get on the gas and go!”

This event, which was held at Overdrive Raceway in Colorado Springs, was made possible thanks to a national grant The Independence Center (The IC) received from the National Center for Independent Living (NCIL). Awarded to only five Centers for Independent Living (CILs) in the U.S., the grant provides funding through the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for Path
to Empowerment to enhance the quality of life for people with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Overdrive makes it easy for thrill seekers like Harrison to satisfy their need for speed. Owned by Jim Mundle, who is himself a double amputee, the facility is equipped with four hand-controlled go-karts commissioned from Italy. The machines are as fast as any other go-kart but can be programmed to run more slowly for those who have sensory sensitivities.

“This is not something we (people with SCIs) usually get to do,” said Drew Wills, who participated in the event and is also a Board member for The Independence Center. “It’s really cool that they have adaptive carts that we can work. It was a total blast!”

The Overdrive event was just one of numerous adaptive recreation opportunities that The IC offered through the NCIL grant this year. Participants also enjoyed curling, camping, bowling, indoor skydiving, pickleball, and fishing.

For both Wills and Harrison, these experiences are vital for creating camaraderie, building confidence, and continuing to live full, independent lives.

“I was always into sports before my injury. I’ve been through some trauma in my life and the sports I’ve done is how I got over it,” said Harrison, who continues to play sports every chance she gets. “I just figured I’d count myself in before I counted myself out.”

Wills agrees on the lasting impact of opportunities like these. “I thrive both mentally and physically on getting out and doing things,” he said. “It keeps me going and keeps me motivated, so I try to make it a part of my life all the time.”

For more information on adaptive recreation opportunities, call The Independence Center at 719-471-8181.