Integrated Living Opportunities: The Latest News with ILO

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Hello everyone, and welcome to fall – we hope that you are all ready for a fun, productive new season! Here at M&L, we are gearing up for an incredibly busy couple of months. Over the last few weeks, we have hosted ILO meetings and workshops, have taken part in the creation of ILO social committees and planned upcoming ILO social events, and have been immersed in the regular day-to-day business of financial planning for individuals with special needs. Busy, busy, busy – and, we love it!

Today, we would like to share with you some of the details of all of this work that we have been doing and the progress that ILO has been making with our community building efforts since our last ILO update. Are you interested? Then please, read on!

What is ILO?

If you are a new visitor to our website, then you probably haven’t heard about M&L’s non-profit, Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO). In short, ILO is a 501c3 certified charitable organization created with the objective of bringing together families, self-advocates, community groups, and organizations with the intention of establishing sustainable, integrated, intentional communities for adults with disabilities.

ILO’s vision is to provide individuals with disabilities the choice and opportunity to live, work, and play as fully respected members of a community that offers an array of supports and services designed to create and maintain a safe environment. We want this environment to promote independent living, employment, and recreational activities. ILO pledges to accomplish exactly that by working together to establish new cooperative communities and support arrangements that are person-centered, maximize self-direction, and fully support community integration, participation and inclusion.

Integrated Living Opportunities: Where we are today

On September 15, M&L and ILO hosted a workshop titled, Integrated Living Opportunities: Where are we today? in Rockville, MD. Much to our excitement, our workshop had an incredible response within the community – 15 new families came out to learn all about ILO! In addition, 6 participating families came along as well to answer questions and share their experiences with community and network building as a part of the ILO team. We would just like to take a minute to welcome these new families to our community building movement, and as well to thank the current participating families for helping us to share our vision.

During that workshop, we were delighted to be able to discuss the core values behind ILO, and the methods that we use to teach families and individuals with disabilities to build communities for their self-advocates. We were also very excited to be able to share with the new families that we are well on the way to creating integrated, intentional communities; in addition to the one self advocate that has already achieved independent living, we have three other self-advocates scheduled to move into their own homes and communities – one Maryland and two in D.C. – in 2016.

It is important to note that helping self-advocates achieve independent living is just one piece of the puzzle; as we stressed throughout the workshop, once our self-advocates move into their own homes, we have to ensure that there are communities into which they can successfully integrate. We do this by building community partnerships (to learn more on this topic, please click here) and also by building and facilitating communities between ILO self-advocates.

At ILO, our participating families have been working very hard to achieve this, with incredible success. We have a three-pronged approach to this goal: the first step is to create clubs ourselves; i.e. we have a cooking club in the works, and community building committee leaders have been working hard to host and facilitate community pod social events (click here to learn more). Secondly, we also plan to create relationships with previously existing social clubs, such as the SPIRIT Club, for the benefit of our self-advocates. In fact, A SPIRIT Club representative was also present at this workshop – we will release more details about ILO and the SPIRIT Club if and when a relationship becomes finalized. As well, ILO President and CEO Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC plans to host open ILO social events for all participating families, self-advocates, and interested families to attend. The first of these events is a potluck to be held November 7th; Carney has also welcomed interested families to contact her to host other, smaller meetings in the interest of facilitating connections and networks between families with special needs that share the same goals.

If you would like to learn more about ILO and our community building work at any time, or to attend any future ILO workshops, social events, or training, please let us know! The more the merrier.

ILO & CIF: New Futures Initiative™ training & Full Life Futures Process™

Those of you that have been following ILO’s development over the last year or so are no doubt familiar with Center for Independent Futures, and the way this this Evanston-based organization has inspired and helped ILO participating families realize our vision of community-based, integrated and sustainable living for our self-advocates. As a part of the ILO in-take process, we require all participating families to take part in two CIF designed training/assessment programs: the New Futures Initiative™ training, and the Full Life Futures™ Skills Inventory process.

The New Futures Initiative™ is a four-day workshop (two phases of two days each) that offers training and support to individuals with disabilities, their families, and special needs organizations. This training and support has been developed to teach interested parties how to replicate CIF’s Community Option Living™ residences in their own states, neighborhoods, and communities. The New Futures Initiatives™ offers a series of workshops, materials and onsite consultations – they help participants “learn about organizational structure, real estate, public benefits, building community, housing, and support for individuals with disabilities.”

As we announced a few weeks ago, we have finalized dates for phase one of round three of this training program, to take place in Evanston, Illinois in February of 2016. Although we already have a number of families on board, we do still have a few slots available. Please note that this round of training is filling up quickly, so if you are interested in joining please contact us. If you would like to learn more about the specifics of the New Futures Initiative™ training, please visit any of our archived blogs on the topic.

The second requirement for ILO intake is for our self-advocates to complete the Full Life Futures Process Skills Inventory. For those of you that have been following ILO, this process has been previously referred to as the Independent Living Readiness Inventory, and is an assessment of an individual’s skill and support needs. The Skills Inventory (which is administered by a CIF trained consultant) provides a blueprint of “skills to be learned, experiences to be obtained, or supports to be acquired to ensure a safe and productive independence.” The Full Life Futures Process™ is a three step approach to creating communities and full lives for self-advocates; currently, ILO is offering the Skill Inventory however we plan to offer all three steps as soon as time and resources allow. Stay tuned!

For more information on the Full Life Futures Process and the Skills Inventory, please visit Center for Independent Futures website, or contact us.

Would You Like More Information?

Thanks to you all for taking the time to visit our blog today! We are truly excited about the progress that ILO is making in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland areas, and are committed to growing our intentional communities, and strengthening our networks of support so that our self-advocates can live, grow and participate in inclusive, sustainable communities. If you would like to discuss our work with an ILO participating family or board member, please contact us! As well, you may wish to check out our blog archive on the topic. ILO’s website is currently under construction, and set to launch this fall. We will be announcing this launch on our blog, so please stay tuned for more information!

Thanks again – don’t forget to visit us next week!

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