Category Archives: Newsletter

Finding Freedom in the Strangest of Places – Tim’s Scuba Adventure

Tim Ashley in his scuba gear

Imagine being weightless, floating effortlessly with your head beneath the water in an environment alien to the one you known. You can hear

Tim Ashley in his scuba gear

Tim Ashley at a recent scuba diving class with Adaptive Adventures

the bubbles breaking on the surface as you observe your new surroundings. That’s how it was for Tim Ashley in an experience he could only describe as “just liberating”. For most people, scuba diving is an exciting and novel escape from the world they’re used to, and a way to experience life beneath the waves. For Tim, who is a Peer Support Coordinator at The Independence Center, scuba diving took on a whole new meaning in a recent trip to Denver. Earlier in his life, Tim had an accident on a construction site that resulted in paralysis that left him unable to use his legs. Today, Tim uses a wheelchair to get around. During a recent scuba diving excursion, Tim experienced life from a whole new perspective.
When discussing how he became interested in scuba diving, Tim enthusiastically says “I’ve wanted to scuba dive ever since I was a little kid. I just never had the opportunity to do it.” So when Adaptive Adventures, an organization that organizes recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, posted the scuba class on their website calendar, Tim jumped at the opportunity. He called up and registered as soon as he could. He had gone on several excursions with Adaptive Adventures as part of his Spinal Cord Injury peer support group in the past, so the process was pretty simple.
Not long after, the big day came and Tim found himself at the edge of an indoor pool in south Denver getting ready to take the plunge. Looking in, he was nervous about what might happen when he hit the water. With the air tank attached to his back, he thought its weight might roll him over in the water where he wouldn’t be able to turn himself back around. When the time came, he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He hit the water with a splash and sank in. As his body settled in the water, he realized

that his initial concern was unfounded. Immediately, he felt at home. Over the next few hours, he swam in the pool as if he were weightless. When I ask him what the experience was like, he says “It’s just amazing.” When diving, “the wheelchair doesn’t exist, and the disability doesn’t exist. It just disappears. It’s a feeling of total freedom.” When elaborating on the experience, he says “It’s like I came out of the person that’s sitting in the wheelchair and I was the person that I used to be.” It’s obvious that his time underwater made quite an impression.

The experience was so impactful, in fact that Tim has signed up to become certified in scuba diving. If all goes well, Tim, a hand full of people from his scuba class, and Adaptive Adventures staff will take a trip to Mexico in the near future to go scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico. He seems ecstatic about the prospect of swimming in the open ocean.

To learn more about the peer support groups at The Independence Center, or to speak to Tim Ashley about recreational opportunities through Adaptive Adventures, give us a call at 719-471-8181 or on the web at http://bit.ly/2wpdnhZ

CEO Corner – New Law to Tackle Fraudulent Service Animals

Service Dog

As CEO of an organization that advocates for and works with people with disabilities on a daily basis, I believe that the new service animal law makes progress in protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

Businesses have an opportunity to create safer environments for all parties, now that a new Colorado law passed deters false service animals.
Misrepresenting your ordinary animal as a service animal is, in essence, stealing another person’s benefits and rights. “It’s comparable to parking in an accessible parking spot or buying a fake disability placard because it’s more convenient for you, when there is someone else who legitimately needs that spot,” says Paul O’Brien, Director of the Colorado Satellite of Canine Companions for Independence.
Some people who bring fake service animals in public are fraudulently claiming to have disabilities, while others may just be unclear about the legal difference between service animals and emotional support animals.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog or miniature horse that is specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Emotional support animals (also called companion animals) provide companionship and help relieve depression, anxiety, or phobias, but they do not have special training to perform tasks. As a result, under the new law, people who have disabilities and rely on emotional support animal can be assessed fines when falsely claiming their animal as a service animal.
Untrained animals can be disruptive to businesses and have even been known to attack legitimate service animals.

Local businesses can create a welcoming environment for all parties by taking a few simple actions. Post service animal signage on outer doors, keep animal guidelines easily available, and train staff to know the two questions they can legally ask someone with an animal: 1) Is this service dog required because of a disability? 2) What task has the animal been trained to perform?

With a little knowledge and understanding, everyone can help to make the world a more accessible place for people with disabilities.
For more information about service animals, visit our service animals information page at http://bit.ly/ServiceAnimal or contact The Independence Center at 719-471-8181.

The IC Gets a New Building to Address Growth

Front of new building

Front of the new building with main building in background

Front of the new building with main building in background

 Its official, The Independence Center (The IC) is the proud new owner of 711 South Tejon Street. The building, which is directly next door to our main building, will be the new home for our CNA Training Program and our Home Health department. Throughout the last few years, The IC has undergone an incredible growth-spurt, which has brought about an increasing need for office space. When the opportunity to purchase a building adjacent to our existing location arose, the decision was obvious. We jumped on the opportunity, and the real work began. At a whopping 12,000 square feet, the space will provide the room necessary for the growth that is anticipated over the coming years. In the early to mid-part of 2018, the building will undergo some minor updates in order to meet the immediate needs of the CNA Training Program and the Home Health department.

New building from The IC parking lot

New building from The IC parking lot

With good reason, everyone involved seems thoroughly excited by the prospect of the new building. In the not so distant future, the building will most certainly need to receive an extensive remodeling. The current configuration is quite compartmental and a little maze-like, which isn’t ideal for accessibility. This will most certainly need to change.

Side entry of the new building

Side entry of the new building

In short order, The IC will be conducting a capital campaign, which will allow us to remodel the space. The plan is to redesign the building to be a model of accessibility similar to our main building. With a little luck, the remodel could happen in 2019, but for now, we’re happy to have such a great new building. If you would like to learn more about The IC, visit us on the web at http://bit.ly/AboutTheIC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Fire Personnel

Emergency Fire Personnel The Pikes Peak region is notorious for its unpredictable weather patterns and long winters. It isn’t unheard of to have t-shirt weather one day followed by a blizzard the next. Don’t be caught off guard when inclement weather strikes. The following tips from The Independence Center’s Emergency Preparedness department will help you prepare.

Seasonal Tips

1.Winter storms can occur through early June in Colorado. Ensure you have a car kit with adequate supplies in your vehicle and keep your gas tank above half full at all times.

2. As the snow melts and temperatures warm, an increased risk of flash floods can occur throughout the state. Stay up-to-date on weather information in your area and remember – turn around, don’t drown!

3. If drought conditions continue, dry vegetation increases the likelihood of wildfires. While Spring can be our wettest season, please keep wildfire safety in mind and be careful with open flames.

4. Spring is a prime time for high winds, rapidly changing weather conditions, winter storms, thunder storms, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. Know where to find weather information and plan accordingly.

5. A standard emergency kit should include food, water, clothing, bedding, tools, a first aid kit, and important documents such as contact information, medical information, and others. Check out The Independence Center website for more details on kit items and how to prepare a disaster kit at http://bit.ly/theicemergencyprep.

Photovoice Project – Creating Change through Creativity

Photo of a woman using a wheelchair taking photos

In an ambitious new project, The Independence Center’s Jamie Muth hopes to shed light on those things in thePhoto of a woman using a wheelchair taking photos daily lives of people with disabilities which promote an accessible and inclusive space, versus those that do not. The idea is for people with disabilities to document through photography and writing, the issues that they encounter which create barriers to an accessible and inclusive space. And on the flip-side, to document those things that help to remove barriers. Examples of negative issues could include things like curbs without curb cuts or the lack of ASL interpreters at a doctor’s office. A few positive examples could include photos demonstrating strong social bonds or disability-friendly policies at your local library. There could be any number of issues, but most will likely be very personal to each individual. The IC will provide disposable cameras, provided by Cottonwood Center for the Arts as well as prints and framing which will be donated by Mike’s Camera.

Along with a written narrative from the photographer, the photos will serve as an authoritative witness of points of friction in the author’s life. The hope of Photovoice is to create a catalyst that leads to meaningful change through creative expression. After participants have finished with their photo essays, the projects will be exhibited at an event on Friday, July 6th. The issues identified by the project, will bring about awareness, and create changes to systems that aren’t working for people with disabilities. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in Photovoice, please contact The IC’s Jamie Muth for more information at jmuth@the-ic.org. To learn more about advocacy at The Independence Center, visit http://bit.ly/PhotoVoiceAdvocacy

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