Your Own Home: Local Discussions May 28, June 18

Finding desirable housing for our adult children remains one of the most intractable problems we face as parents.  Recent IPADD discussions have highlighted concerns around the PUNS selections and lack of CILA options, with many families selecting home-based care instead.  This, of course, works fine in the short term, but at some point the vast majority of our children will need independent housing with some level of support.  We really can’t afford to give up.

Providers are also frustrated.  Impeded by slow state payment and absent financing for new facilities they cannot serve their missions.  Many would like to develop housing to serve this pressing need.  And parents-providers face a torrent of red tape and frustration when they try to fill the gap.  In short, housing for the developmentally disabled is a mess in our state.  But we really can’t afford to give up.

The Illinois Council on Developmental Disability (ICDD) is working with CSH to sponsor a series of meetings to discuss housing throughout the state.  As they seek to develop a report on the state of DD housing in Illinois, CSH asks us the following “What would your life be like if you had your own home?”  Findings from these meetings will be reported to ICDD and may well form the foundation for developing solutions.   CSH is a well-qualified partner with a history of addressing housing needs among those in need, such as the homeless and veterans.

This article highlights the upcoming discussions scheduled in Lake County and McHenry County.  The Lake County discussions are at Protected Tomorrows on May 28.  One is at 10am and the other at 6pm.  The McHenry County meetings are on June 18, also 10am and 6pm. (Other meetings are scheduled around the state, and they are listed on the ICDD website.)

In order to stimulate participation in these important discussions, I have created a little website for Lake and McHenry Counties.  It contains links to the event flyers, sponsors, registration, and some background papers for those who are interested.  The website is

Please pass this along to anyone who will find this of interest.   I hope you will participate in a session.  We really can’t afford to give up on housing.


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Afterschool Club Open House October 21 – Lake Villa

LCCIL After School FlyerHigh School and transition students with disabilities have a special invitation to attend an Open House on Monday, October 21, 2013 at Camp Peacock in Lake Villa.   The Open House is to promote a new “Afterschool Club” that is sponsored  by the Lake County Center for Independent Living and the Lake Villa Township.  The Open House will take place at from 3:30-6pm.  RSVPs are encouraged.

The “Afterschool Club” will emphasize leadership, employment readiness and self-advocacy.  Anyone with an interest in helping advance young people with disabilities should attend (parents, teachers, service providers, etc.)

Getting to the event:   Camp Peacock is off Deep Lake Road, north of Grand Avenue, on Crooked Lake.    (See map below.)  Information on transportation, including use of the Northwest Demonstration Project buses is available from the LCCIL. Call Allison at 847-949-4440

Camp Peacock used to be a summer camp targeted at young people with disabilities. (Read Chicago Tribune article here.)  It stopped operating some years ago and was recently purchased by the Lake Villa Township.  (Read the NewsSun article here.)


Peacock Camp

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Handicap This! Performers, Educators, Entrepreneurs

HTP-HOMEbar-POSTERHandicap This! may have started as a fun and educational enterprise for Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach, but it has grown into a thriving business.  The core business is a constantly-evolving show called “Handicap This!”.  It is a  funny, poignant and bawdy telling of the story of their friendship –  Mike has Cerebral Palsy and Tim was first hired as his assistant over a decade ago.  Their relationship grew and now they create a “Judgment  Not Allowed” zone during every show that educates and opens minds with facts, tales and heart.  They tell a story of human potential, using themselves as examples.

And apparently the business potential for Handicap This! is very great.  With three employees now, revenues tripled in 2013 and the company keeps growing.  They have performed for over 30,000 people in 10 states since debuting the show in 2010.  They are increasingly called upon as motivational speakers in a variety of settings.   Big users of social media, their facebook page has over 14,000 followers and offers unfailingly positive posts about life.  Handicap This! also has produced a series of 13 web episodes with more on the way.  You can watch the trailer here:

Like many businesses, they want to give back to their community.  Not surprisingly, they have created a foundation called Keep On Keeping On that has assisted 80 clients with the “high cost of living with physical disability” since 2007.

You can catch Handicap This! at the HOME Bar in Arlington Heights on September 5.  Admission is $15 online, $20 at the door.  Contact Tim to book an event.

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Meet Marc Stein — Artist, Entrepreneur: Spotlight

selfportrait_002Did you notice that TheNemoNews has a new logo?  It is the work of artist Marc E. Stein a Chicagoland artist and entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in drawing animation and merchandise creation.   He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film with a concentration in 2-D animation,  from Columbia College.  He recently completed the UIC class in writing a business

Marc has developed characters that he would like to expand into a broader product line.  He is contemplating the potential of developing an animated series based on one or the other.  Mango, the fearless and  inquisitive cat  is the primary candidate.

Marc’s recently had a booth at the Entrepreneurial Jumpstart Fair at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education (ICRE) where he displayed a variety of products from books to t-shirts to jewelry boxes.

Marc markets his work at   He can be reached at

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Entrepreneurship Program — Open House August 27

word cloudEntrepreneurs with disabilities are about to get a helping hand.  The College of Lake County Personal Success Program (CLC-PSP) is about to offer a series of two classes aimed at teaching entrepreneurship skills.  The first class is “Introduction to Entrepreneurship”.  It is followed by “Business Plan Writing”.  Each class costs $350.  There will be an open house dealing specifically with the Entrepreneurship series on August 27, 2013, at the Grayslake Campus of CLC, from 6-8pm.  Pre-registration is encouraged.

A business plan is central to developing an enterprise that actually makes money and can be taken seriously by others.  Investors and customers like tangible evidence a business has been thought through – a business plan does that.   This class is different from others because  that it targets the needs of entrepreneurs with disabilities.  It addresses customized self-employment, micro-enterprise and other topics that are specific to disability.

In addition, students in the entrepreneurship class will be encouraged to bring a mentor along as a class participant, perhaps a parent.  This individual is likely to assist with the creation of the enterprise and remain committed to its success.   The attendance of two individuals is covered in the fee, in recognition of the need for committed partners.

This self-employment program came together whan a group of like-minded agencies and individuals came together to explore options.  Dubbed The Lake County Area Entrepreneurship Initiative (LCAEI), the principal organizing agencies include: the College of Lake County (CLC), the Illinois Association of Microboards and Cooperatives (IAMC) , the Lake County Center for Independent Living (LCCIL),   the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL),,  The University of Illinois at Chicago and Vocational Rehabilitation.

The initiative was sparked by the efforts of Dr. Fabricio Balcazar at UIC.  He is working with federal and state agencies to develop other such projects in the Chicago area.

The initiative is expected to announce other activities that are currently in the planning stages.  For more information,  contact the project coordinator,  Mary Curran Rhodes at



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Personal Success @ CLC — Open House August 12, 2013

Did you know that the College of Lake County offers a variety of classes to train adults with intellectual disabilities for entry-level employment?  This innovative and growing program is called the Personal Success Program.  These non-credit classes are offered in Career Exploration, Childcare, Food Service, Keyboarding and Pet Care.  New classes have been added this year in Cashiering, Entrepreneurship and Computer Skills for the Workplace.  (Watch for more exciting news about the Entrepreneurship Program.)  Tuition ranges from $350 to $425 per course.

CLC is hosting an Open House for those interested on Monday, August 12, 2013 from 6-8pm at the Vernon Hills Campus.  There will be presentations and a chance to meet the instructors.  Preregistration in encouraged.  Last spring the Open House was standing room only.

Many of the classes are team-taught by a content area instructor and a special education instructor.  These classes are targeted at adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, but are open to the public.  Prior to admission, students interview with the Program Director, Michael Garamoni, or (847) 543-2994.   Contact him for more information.

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LCCIL Boot Camp for Parents

Summer Boot Camp for Parents continues at the Lake County Center for Independent Living (LCCIL).  July offerings are open to parents and advocates with an interest in the IEP/Transition process.   The class is free and held on Tuesdays from 1-3 at the LCCIL.  For information contact Shanta Frierson, 847-949-4440,

The July schedule includes:

July 16 — Bullying 101, presented by the Lake County Health Department Children’s Program.  They will also discuss the Health Department programs and services.

July 23 –Skills to Succeed, presented by the Division of Specialized Care for Children.  Shannon Jones is coming from Rockford to explain this little known program for children up to age 22 that is administered by UIC


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Entrepreneur Registry: A NemoNews Project

Do you have your own business?    Do you want to start your own business?  Do you have a disability?  Are you in the Chicago area?  If so, TheNemoNews wants to hear from you.   Please register with us using the form below.  We promise not to sell your information, bug the heck out of you, or give away your trade secrets!

TheNemoNews is creating this registry for a couple of reasons:

First, we would like to talk to area entrepreneurs who have disabilities.   We might write up and publish some of the stories.  (With your permission.)  Your story might inspire others.

Second, we would like to invite you to events that are of particular interest to entrepreneurs.  There is growing interest in entrepreneurship among individuals with disabilities.  This includes developing resources to help them succeed.

Third, we would like to have some idea of how large this group is and the scope of activity.  That way we can better identify our strengths, figure out what is needed and make entrepreneurial success easier.

For more information on the registry, email Mary Curran Rhodes,

April 12, 2014:  The registry is now  closed.

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iPADS & Autism Apps Workshop: June 29

little cityLittle City is offering an iPAD workshop on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at their Day School at 1760 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine.  There will be training in  five developmental apps:  speech and language, matching and sorting, academics, fine motor skills and emotions.    Attendees will receive a resource list of iPAD apps.    There will be a continental breakfast, raffles, and a tour of the Day School.   Registration is online.  A donation of $10 is suggested at the event.  For more information contact:  Sally Blake,, 847.221.7831.

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Day at the Lake, 2013 — June 23 and July 28

day_at_the_lake_2013Individuals with special needs and their families are invited to spend a  “Day at the Lake”  on June 23 and July 29.   The event runs from 11am to 5pm  and is at Lake Como, just north of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. The event is sponsored by a few members of  Willow Creek Community Church.  This event is free of charge, but registration is requested as spaces fill up quickly.

The event will feature swimming, boating, fellowship, food and fun!  Families are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and fishing poles in addition to the usual suits, towels and sunscreen.   TheNemoNews has heard that this is a *FUN* event as well as a chance to meet other families.

To register for a Day at the Lake contact Trudy at 847-855-9571 or email

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