Author: jmeddy Created: 11/5/2009 12:36 PM
General Organization News Posts

Center for Independent Futures' 8th annual Spark event is just two weeks away on Friday, April 25th from 7:00-11:00 p.m. This year’s event will once again be held at the beautiful Galleria Marchetti in Chicago and will feature a delicious plated diner, exciting silent auction, overflowing open bar, and dancing with live music performed by Underwater People.

Our Spark Sponsors include:






• Matt & Ben Palmore
• Suzanne & Jim Kenney

First Bank and Trust
Wells Fargo Advisors

Purchase tickets online TODAY!

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Center for Independent Future’s Volunteer Club brings together CIF participants, older adults, and Northwestern University students to engage in volunteer projects that benefit the local community. Volunteer Club was back at work this month with another fun spring-themed project!

For the first time, volunteers did a project to benefit the siblings of individuals with disabilities. There is a local Sibshop in Northbrook for siblings 6-12 years old hosted by JCFS. Sibshops, described as awesome celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of children with special needs, acknowledge the challenges and rewards sisters and brothers face on a daily basis and allow siblings from many families to meet in relaxed, supportive and recreational settings. The project sparked conversation among volunteers about their relationships with their siblings as kids and today.

To support the spring Sibshop, volunteers put together fun craft kits for the kids! Craft kits included all the art supplies and materials to make paper plate bugs, fish, snails, and other animals. Volunteers packaged googly eyes, popsicle sticks, and other craft supplies for the activity. We also included colorful foam stickers for kids to decorate their craft kit box and make it their own. We hope the kids have a very fun time making spring crafts!

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CIF is beginning to gear up for its third MB Financial Bike the Drive on Sunday, May 25th. Beginning at 5:30am, bikers representing CIF’s Dream Team will join thousands of other bikers to bike up to 30 miles on Lakeshore Drive. MB Financial Bike the Drive is the one day of the year when the length of Lake Shore Drive is open to cyclists and closed to auto traffic. CIF is excited to be one of the event’s Charity Partners program again this year.

We are recruting riders for our 2014 CIF Bike the Drive Dream Team! Dream Team bikers commit to participating in the Bike the Drive event, and also to raising funds for Center for Independent Futures. Last year, the team raised over $7500!

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Center for Independent Future’s Volunteer Club brings together CIF participants, older adults, and Northwestern University students to engage in volunteer projects that benefit the local community. After snow and frigid temperatures forced us to postpone our January projects, volunteers were excited to meet twice in February to work on fun, new projects.

For the first project of the month, volunteers focused on creative recycling to benefit the homeless. A student representative from Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) at Northwestern University shared information about environmental and recycling initiatives in Evanston and helped to lead the project.

Volunteers worked together to create “plarn,” plastic yarn made from recycled grocery bags. By cutting the bags into loops and tying the pieces together, we made two big ball of “plarn.” These balls of “plarn” will be donated to New Life for Old Bags, a community group that meets monthly in Uptown to crochet the “plarn” into sleeping mats for the homeless. The “plarn” project provided space to talk about two important issues in the community, recycling and homelessness, and was incredibly engaging. With all of the old grocery bags everyone have lying around, we are hopeful to do this fun and meaningful project again soon!

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It’s hard to believe that it is already time to register for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon! Center for Independent Futures (CIF) will again have a team that will be running for possibilities.

This year, entry to the Chicago Marathon will be determined by lottery. However, Team CIF has guaranteed spots for you! Registration for guaranteed entry and lottery entry for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon began March 19th at 12 p.m. and will end April 7th at 12 p.m. Avoid the risk of the lottery and secure a spot today by contacting Becca at

Team CIF benefits include a personal fundraising web page, individualized fundraising support from CIF staff, discounted CARA marathon training program & membership, team building activities with CIF community members, race weekend accommodations with a CIF family if needed, and admittance for two to fall fundraising event Something’s Cooking.

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Recently, Center for Independent Futures (CIF) has been involved in a budding housing movement on the East Coast, in collaboration with M&L Special Needs Planning – an organization in Washington, D.C. dedicated to supporting and educating families about future planning for their sons and daughters with disabilities.

In October, Jane Doyle, Director of Special Projects, and Ann Sickon, Executive Director, traveled to D.C. to host a housing development workshop for families from Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. The workshop highlighted CIF’s New Futures Initiative and aimed to share more information about CIF’s Community Living Option™ residences. The workshop was incredibly successful, with more than 65 families attending

On Feburary 20, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC brought five families from Maryland to the CIF office in Evanston for the first two days of New Futures Initiative training. The second half of the training will take place later in the year in Washington, D.C.  Families will learn processes and tools to create alternative housing options for individuals with disabilities in their own communities.

"I have been tremendously excited about our relationship with CIF," says Maedi Tanham Carney, founder of M&L Special Needs Planning. "Their approach is organized, methodical and well planned out. They have 10 years of experience putting Community Living Options™ together, and their New Futures Initiative process can help us achieve our goals without having to reinvent the wheel. I look forward to a long collaboration as M&L works toward our five-year plan to help 50-100 individuals with disabilities in the DC area aquire the housing of their choice."

CIF is incredibly excited for the upcoming visit, and we look forward to continuing our work to expand the housing options for individuals with disabilities across the country!


Read more about M&L Special Needs Planning...

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Center for Independent Futures and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 were excited to co-host Story Pirates for the second year in a row at SPACE in Evanston on Sunday, Feburary 2. The Pirates celebrated the stories of young authors from Dewey and Lincoln Elementary Schools with two performances at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Story Pirates is a nationally respected group of actors from New York and Los Angeles who are dedicated to celebrating the words and ideas of young people. The Pirates sailed into Evanston classrooms on January 29th to help students create their stories, and spent the next few days practicing with students to finesse the stories for two school assemblies on Friday, January 31st and the final shows on Sunday at SPACE.

"The Story Pirates realize that inside each child is a story that deserves to be told," said Ann Sickon, Center for Independent Futures Executive Director. "They are all about nurturing imagination and amplifying the voice of children of all abilities through creative writing and drama. We were so pleased to partner with D65 again to bring the Pirates back to Evanston."

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Spurred by the iPad’s success engaging people with autism, Foov Fitness founders Megan Finnegan and Sylvie Légère used their combined 30 years of experience in e-learning, technology, fitness and special needs care to develop a first-of-its-kind workout-based iPad app. Foov Fitness combines iPad app technology and fitness expertise to create story-based workouts that are fun and engaging for all, but especially for people with intellectual disabilities. 

“Foov at the Ballpark” gives users with cognitive disabilities a life-like experience of spending a day at Wrigley Field. With the iconic stadium as a backdrop, participants are immersed in the experience of Wrigley Field without having to leave home.The app prompts users to complete specific movements and exercises, engaging participants in a fun workout. The “Foov at the Ballpark” app is perfect for adults and kids, and has has been used by individuals, families and peer mentoring programs in schools.

A few of the Center for Independent Futures participants had the opportunity to try out "Foov at the Ball Park" just as it was being introduced and they thought it was cool. Matt Palmore is now a regular user. "I really like the app because it motivates me to exercise," says Matt. "It is based on the Chicago Cubs, which is awesome. I recommend that you download it and try it out."

Watch the video below to see the app in action...

Help get the word out about Foov and this great i-pad them on Facebook now!

Read more and learn how to Get the App...

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Center for Independent Futures is pleased to be a co-sponosr for "Policy, Advocacy and You: An Update on Disability and Aging" presented on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah, 3320 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, IL. Registration with a light breakfast is from 8:30 - 9 a.m. The program starts at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 12:15 p.m. The event is free for community members, including seniors, people with disabilities, their family and friends. The fee is $40 for Professionals who will be awarded 3 CEUs (LSW, LCSW, LCPC, and QIDP). To request accommodations, please call 773.508.1121.  Register on-line Today!

This year's focus will be on the important issues impacting long term supports and services for seniors and people with disabilities. People directly impacted by these changes are encouraged to attend this discussion as well as their family members and the professionals who work with them.

Read More for Featured Speakers and Sponsors...

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The Arts of Life, a Chicagoland arts organization for and collaboratively run by adults with and without disabilites, is welcoming the public to their annual Awards Show Dinner and Fundraiser. This wonderful event will take place Sunday, February 16th from 5-8pm at The Kenilworth Club, 410 Kenilworth Ave, Kenilworth, IL 60043.

The 2014 Awards Show Dinner and Fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity to recognize every artist from both the Chicago and North Shore studios. Each artist will receive a unique award for their accomplishments in 2013 and showcase a piece of artwork in the event exhibition. Several Center for Independent Futures participants are artists who work in one of the two studios.

Each $100 ticket for the Award Show will include a 3-course vegetarian dinner provided by Rogue Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to making practical improvements in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There will also be an open bar. The 2014 event sponsors include Rogue Philanthropy, The Kenilworth Club, Woman Made Gallery and Domenic Bucci.

Purchase Tickets Today...

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