Home Articles posted by Kendra Schroder

Weekly Resource: Blink Health

Submitted by Nancy McClellan Hickey, PACE, Inc. Executive Director

For today’s Weekly Resource, we’re discussing Blink Health.

About 1/3 of prescriptions are not picked up because the person prescribed the medication cannot
afford it. Prices of prescriptions vary immensely an example is Lipitor. It can range in price from $163.54 to $26.59. With a service that groups patients and leverages their buying power, Blink Health, it can cost as low as $9.94. Prilosec typically costs $19.61 and in Blink it is $6.94.
Blink Health is free app and website (blinkhealth.com) that lets you find the lowest price of 15,000
generic drugs, pay that low price within the Blink App and pick the prescription up at your pharmacy.
There is no membership fee, no monthly cost. There are 60,000 participating pharmacies including
Walgreens, CVS, Target and Walmart. You can save up to 99% on prescriptions.

This is a relatively new endeavor and it is in the first stages. Generic drugs are first, then eventually it will do the same with over the counter drugs. Blink does not coordinate with insurance and you must talk to your insurance company to determine if Blink payments count towards your deductible.

Dr. Oz featured the app on one of his shows and Forbes has also made mention of the unique
entrepreneurial venture.

Weekly Resource: Upcoming FREE Eye and Hearing Testing

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

For today’s Weekly Resource, we’d like to share with you some information about a FREE health event coming up in our area! Thanks to the Lion’s Club and Promise Healthcare for making this happen!

Here is the information we received directly from Promise Healthcare:

The Champaign Lions Club and the Lions of Illinois Foundation will provide free Diabetic Retinopathy screenings to help detect early warning of diabetic retinopathy or possible macular degeneration of the eye. The screenings will take place on Thursday, June 9, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at Frances Nelson, 819 Bloomington Road in Champaign.

Anyone of any age may be tested, but it is especially important for adults of age 55 and up. If undetected, diabetic retinopathy can have severe visual consequences and even lead to blindness. The screening for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration is a free service provided by the Lions of Illinois Foundation made possible by donations to local Lions Clubs and the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

The screenings are free and open to the general public. Individuals interested in having their eyes screened and/or hearing tested should register at Frances Nelson when they arrive for the test. Each test will take approximately five minutes and the results will be mailed to each individual. In some cases this test also provides an early indication of diabetes. This is not an eye test like one would do to receive glasses.

“We are pleased that the Lions Club has chosen Frances Nelson to offer this service to our patients and the community as a whole, said Nancy Greenwalt, Executive Director of Promise Healthcare.

“Lions Clubs are the largest service club in the world,” according to Marvin Paulsen, local member of the Champaign Lions Club. “Their main focus is and always has been on eyes, eyesight, and hearing.”

Other projects the Lions Club is involved in is the collection of used eyeglasses, low vision testing, providing eye glasses for people in need, and reducing river blindness. The screening for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration and hearing is a free service provided by the Lions of Illinois Foundation made possible by donations to local Lions Clubs and the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

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Check back next week for more resources from PACE!

Weekly Resource: ExactCare Pharmacy

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Coordinator

Today’s weekly resource is excellent for someone looking for an easy, convenient option for receiving their prescriptions. Check out Exact Care Pharmacy – great local service is available, and prices are comparable to your current walk-in pharmacy!


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Check back next week for another Weekly Resource from PACE!

Weekly Resource: BridgingApps.org

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, PACE Program Director

Bridging Apps is a website which specializes in mobile applications for persons with disabilities. They have a massive list of apps which are broken out by disability, what task they help with, price, operating system, and so on. Further, many of the apps are tested by people with the relevant disability to truly test their effectiveness. This website is a great resource for anyone looking to find mobile applications designed specifically to tackle the particular barrier someone is facing.

Visit www.bridgingapps.org to find out more!

Weekly Resource: Luminosity


Weekly Resource Submitted by: Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

Luminosity is a site where you can go and exercise your mind by playing brain games. The free version has three free games that will test your memory, attention and mental speed and it will show you how you stack up against other people your age. Coming back and playing these games on a regular basis will keep your brain healthy and fit. Using your brain in this manner will greatly benefit you as you age and may even prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia from developing.

Try it out today! visit www.luminosity.com to learn more.

Weekly Resource: Motion Savvy

Submitted by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

Life can be very hard for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. There’s the frustration that comes when people simply have trouble communicating with you. Unfortunately, for many of the 370 million deaf people in the world, their inability to communicate is often perceived as an intellectual handicap which is likely preventing some very brilliant minds in our society from reaching their full potential. Ryan Hait-Campbell, CEO and founder of Alameda, California based MotionSavvy, is one of those brilliant minds. He, along with his colleagues who are all also deaf, have developed a groundbreaking technology that combines the latest in motion sensing and mobile computing called the UNI.

UNI consists of three parts: a tablet computer, a specially-designed smart case, and a mobile app. The smart case contains hardware from Leap Motion and consists of a couple of cameras to track the location of both the user’s hands and fingers. The app, which is powered by the tablet, translates the hand and finger movements of sign language into audible speech or text displayed on the screen. The app in turn can also translate spoken word into written text for the deaf person to read.
UNI does more than simply interpret; it also learns. Just like spoken language, sign language consists of various “dialects” and “accents”. UNI learns your own style of signing as you train it to improve its accuracy. It will also grow smarter through a database of new gestures and terms that are “crowdsigned” by its users.

For more information, visit www.motionsavvy.com.

Check back next week for more resources from PACE!

Weekly Resource: CaptiVoice

Weekly Resource submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, PACE Executive Director

This week we’d like to introduce you to an awesome app called Capti Narrator. This is great for people with visual impairments or attention issues that may impact ability to read a screen. Check it out below, and click this link to read more about the Capti app!

Capti Narrator is an app that lets you listen to digital information on the go. From text to speech you can even put web pages in your reading list and listen to them while driving. You can choose voices with different accents, some are male and some female. Digital content can be listened to hands free. Speaking of free, there is a free version that supports screen readers for Jaws and NVDA and VoiceOver for iPhone and iPad. You can jump to the next or previous word, sentence paragraph, heading, page or a search keyword. You can sync your playlists and even reading position across all devices.

If you purchase Premium it will even translate words into anyone of 26 languages. You get a full text playlist search, It puts images in text creates different playlists, and plays Word Challenge a game that will help you build vocabulary. The file size limit is up to 100 MB in size default limit is 10 MB.

Supported Formats:

Adobe PDF (.pdf)
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
Plain and Rich text (.txt, .rtf)
EPUB books (.epub)
OpenDocument (.odt, .odp)
DAISY books (.zip)

Content Resources:

Project Gutenberg: read any book from the public domain library of 50,000+ titles
Bookshare: people with disabilities can read any book among 400,000+ titles
Google Drive
Your PC, flash drive
Email attachments (iPhone, iPad)
Copy-paste via clipboard (iPhone, iPad)
Other Capti users (AirDrop)

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Check back next week for more resources from PACE! If there’s a resource YOU would like to hear about it, please let us know by emailing info@pacecil.org!

Weekly Resource: Brain Injury Association of Illinois

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

This week, we continue our new weekly tradition of publishing a blog post that links you to valuable resources available online or in your community.

I’ve worked with people with brain injuries for over a decade, so this cause is near to my heart. I’dd like to introduce you to the Brain Injury Association of Illinois. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 Million people sustain a brain injury every year. These can result in anything from death to a concussion, and in may cases, can leave lasting effects that change a person’s life forever. The BIAIL is available as a resource for Illinois residents who live with brain injury, as well as the friends and family who love them.

To visit BIAIL’s website, click this link.

Here is the mission of BIAIL:

The Brain Injury Association of Illinois (BIA of IL) is a not-for-profit, statewide membership organization comprised of people with brain injuries, family members, friends and professionals. BIA of IL is part of a network of brain injury associations across the United States, and is an Affiliate of the national Brain Injury Association, Inc. (BIA) which was founded in 1980. The BIA of IL is the only statewide organization in Illinois serving individuals with Acquired Brain Injury, their families and professionals who treat them. We work to assist in developing communication channels between families and professionals in a way that improves relationships and cooperation, enhances teamwork and helps decrease potential issues that might arise . Due to decreased resources, lengths of stay, rehabilitation and care needs, and changing family structures, the BIA of IL feels collaboration is critical for effective service delivery. The Brain Injury Association of Illinois works with local, state and national organizations to consistently lead Illinois in providing quality, affordable and accessible services to people with brain injuries and their families. The BIA of Illinois is dedicated to providing information, resources, advocacy, and support.


Finding the Positive: Self-Determination

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Specialist

During my journey toward self-determination I have discovered many important things. Throughout a large part of my life, I struggled and didn’t understand why until I looked deeper into who I am at the core of my being. Oddly enough, the catalyst that made me search the depths of my soul came after a disabling illness. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Medical treatment for this tumor left me unable to walk, barely able to speak, and with the left half of my face paralyzed. I realized then a strength and determination that I had not previously realized I had.

Many of the parts of my history are painful to recall. My life was not filled with opportunity, encouragement, or guidance but, somewhere inside I always longed for something better. I realized after my disabling illness that each person carries unique talents and gifts to share with our society when assessable opportunities, support, and skilled guidance are available. I became very aware of the need to find something wonderful and unique inside of my soul that I could share with society. I realized the impact of my disability would force me to create a new path – a path that would highlight my abilities and minimize my disability. My new path included returning to school and seeking a degree in a field where I might help others along their journey of self-determination.

Here at PACE, our staff is focused on assisting people with disabilities to have lives that are self-directed with the focus on each person’s distinct gifts and talents. Each of us can use the strength of self-awareness that we gain while dealing with a disability and ultimately fulfill the goal of having a self-determined life.

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Check back soon for more info from PACE!

Weekly Resource: Disability Scoop!

As we mentioned last week, we’re changing it up on the blog from now on! We want to connect you with valuable resources you can use in your everyday life.

Today’s submission was provided by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist.

This website is an online news source for all news related to disability. The site also has a classifieds section listing jobs nationwide that have some connection to disability. Check it out and get the scoop!

Visit Disability Scoop Website here!

disability scoop

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If you have questions about disability-related resources for yourself, please contact PACE and one of our staff will assist you!

Sign of the Times

Contributed by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

We’re changing things up here on the blog! In order to better provide you with helpful information and resources, PACE Staff will be sharing some of our favorite online articles and resources related to disabilities. We encourage you to check out each and every one – we are sure you’ll find them very useful!

Today we’re sharing an article from Scientific American that discusses the value of technology in the lives of the Deaf community. Video calling and apps like Glide or services like FaceTime are incredibly powerful when it comes to helping Deaf people communicate in their primary language of American Sign Language.

Check out the article here! We’d love to hear how technology has helped you or someone you know!

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As you may know, we continue to await a budget agreement from the State of Illinois. Once an agreement is reached and we can once again fully staff our office, we intend to make some much needed improvements to our website. (Hopefully a completely new one!) Until then, please continue to read our blog here and check out our Facebook page for updates on what’s happening at PACE!

Misunderstanding What You Can’t See

Contributed by Matthew Robertson, Transition Coordinator

Many people say, “I’d have to see it to believe it.” There are people with disabilities that aren’t perceivable. How can one understand or know something they can’t see? It starts with awareness.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a year and 1 in 5 of children ages 13 – 18 years experiences a severe mental disorder. These statistics are alarming. We all go to school or work with or have a family member that has mental illness.

People with mental illnesses may not want to share their disability and that’s okay. Others may not know they have a disorder. Persons with a traumatic brain injury may not know they can’t remember the incident. Someone that’s always energetic and makes impulsive decisions may not realize they have ADHD.

The symptoms of mental illnesses need to be taught and understood. In a school of 1,000 kids, statistically, 200 experience a severe mental disorder; you may never realize that many are affected. Observing them socialize you may never know either. I believe the symptoms of mental disorders may be are seen as personality traits and may be placed in a social groups accordingly.

There are over-achievers, top of their class; motivated 110%, neat, and use a certain color ink. They have clean lockers and specifically arranged. They sound like perfect students and have good traits. They have a routine; but for some, if their routine is altered, they become anxious because they are obsessive-compulsive.

Some kids draw on their work, tapping pencils or feet, during class. They are viewed as kids that annoy everyone and don’t care. Some kids don’t care but some may not be able to focus because they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. NAMI estimates 9% of children 3-17 have ADHD. When their symptoms are at their worst, they are treated as if they could stop, and then punished. Schools need more awareness.

Every school has kids with no energy, interest, or concentration, don’t do well in school, socially awkward, or have a low self-esteem. These kids are misunderstood and called burn-outs. They may have depression. If not treated properly, some use drugs, alcohol, or do self-harm. They are looked down upon for being “druggies” or “cutters” and viewed as selfish if they commit suicide. People should see the substance abuse as a cry for help and not as something people do because they don’t fit in. People with depression need support.

Mental illnesses can be hard to understand and easily overlooked. If symptoms are recognized, awareness may help with their own disorder or someone else. For more information, visit the NAMI website here.

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If you are interested in local mental health resources, contact PACE for more information. We may also be able to work with you to develop an Independent Living Plan in addition to any mental health resources you may receive.

Seeing Differently

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

I have heard multiple times, this year, that I have changed lives.

Recently, I have been getting new people to my Low Vision department, on average, one new per each day that PACE has its doors open. And I have been fortunate enough to make a difference in so many of these lives. When you are first going through a new experience; especially a medical one, and do not know where to turn, it seems as if you are alone. When people walk through the doors of PACE, they still may feel that way, but in several of my cases, when they walk out they start seeing things differently.

I have had people come in with anger, because they can no longer drive or other issues, and they feel as if people are treating them as if they can no longer do anything else. This is not the case, as we work together with you, you can do the things you did before, but many times the how is going to be different.

In Low Vision Services, we have the opportunity to work with you in groups, one-on-one, or both. Bringing your support people, family, friends, are always welcomed, if that is what makes you feel comfortable. Or if you prefer, the space we make, can be independent and away from the noise of everything else.

You decide.

I cannot fix your vision, but I can talk to you about changing your outlook, and with that we can work together toward whatever you want to do. We can start as simple as a magnifier – move to getting reading materials or talking devices – and go onto more active lifestyles. I have contacts with everything from Amateur Radio / HAM Radio to a Blind Skiers group!

There are also Low Vision Groups available that allow people to be with others with a form of peer mentoring; where you can ask questions and learn more. Questions like: Who is a good doctor? Will this procedure hurt? How do you find a lost item? Does anyone know where I can get a ride? How do I get transportation? And many more questions…. Feel free to bring your list of questions: PACE Low Vision Group Members have answers. Call PACE for a specific locations and times.

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We’ll see you next week with more from PACE!

Wheelathon 2016 Entry Information

Hello everyone! We are getting excited for this year’s Wheelathon! Below, you will find the links to our Wheelathon forms. Forms are also available for pickup at PACE, Inc. at 1317 E. Florida Avenue in Urbana. All proceeds benefit PACE as we continue to serve people with disabilities in Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, and Piatt, and Vermilion counties. Thanks in advance for helping raise money for our center!

Wheelathon 2016 takes place on Saturday, April 23rd, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Meadowbrook Park. Come on out and wheel, push, or walk! We have some fun, family-friendly activities scheduled, and free lunch for all participants! The Wheelathon is an annual event that helps raise awareness of accessibility issues among people with disabilities, and gives people who do not have a disability the opportunity to wheel around a paved route to experience what it’s like to use a wheelchair of their own.

All Team Rosters and Individual Donation Sheets are due to PACE by Friday, April 22nd. Anyone who raises at least $20 gets a free Wheelathon t-shirt! Come join the fun!

Interested in being a Team Captain? Organize a team of your friends and family to raise money for PACE! Check out this info sheet:
Wheelathon2016Team Captain

If you’re ready to form a team, use this sheet to track team members, amount donated, and T-Shirt size.
Click the link and print it out:
Wheelathon2016Team roster

Not sure you want to be a captain? Don’t have a team of your own? Raise money and participate individually! Here’s your registration form!
Click the link and print it out:
Wheelathon2016 individual participant registration and pledge 1

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wheelathon 2016 Flyer2

Centers for Independent Living and the Fifth Core Service

Submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Since the opening of the first Centers for Independent Living in the early 1970’s, there has been a mandate for each center to provide four core services. PACE provides these services and they are Advocacy, Information and Referral, Skills Training, and Peer Counseling. Recently through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, an amendment has been made to add a fifth core service: Transition.

One type of transition is Reintegration. Over the years the Centers took issue with their peers being financially trapped in nursing homes – yes, that happens. People have the ability to live independently in the community with supports such as home services, personal assistance, emergency response systems, and accessibility adjustments in their home. When these issues are addressed, a person can return to the community to live independently. Centers have seen this and advocated for it for years, each Center talking to their legislators and educating them as to how this allows the person to regain control over their lives. Beyond that, it costs the State less than institutionalization by about one third. Seemed like a no brainer but the bureaucracy needed time to grow too for the government to get in on it.

Now centers also include Youth Transition from school to work or continued education. PACE is currently applying for funding to allow us to work with young people who want to make that transition. A center in Rockford has been working in this area and has developed a curriculum they use in the schools to prepare kids for decisions regarding work or continued education. Through this program, kids get a chance to meet and talk to their adult peers who have been through those transitions and see employed people who have disabilities as their role models. They can think about how they would adapt the work or learning environment, whether to disclose a disability to an employer, and other questions not usually offered by traditional education. As you would expect, that can be a powerful motivator. As for schools, they will get to hear from the adult peers as well – peers who have already been through those systems – which in turn helps the schools learn how to better assist students with disabilities navigate their transition from high school to work or higher education.

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Keep an eye on PACE’s Facebook page for updates on the fifth core service, and as always, check back next week for more from PACE!


Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

I spent over a decade of my career working in hospitals. As regulations changed and policies were updated, we were at times inundated with new trainings and information to remember. One training I recall specifically was an “Accountability Training” designed for the entire hospital staff. When we all heard we were assigned to attend this training, we scoffed a bit. Accountability?? Are we not accountable every day simply by showing up to work and completing our assigned tasks? We later learned that the point of the Accountability Training was about taking responsibility for more than just showing up, clocking in, and clocking out. It was about learning to say “I’ll own that” when a situation got tough and no one wanted to follow-up on it. Accountability means taking charge, taking responsibility, and “owning it” when it would be much easier to forget about it.

Let’s face it – it can be really hard sometimes to do more than “show up” in life. Perhaps you have a disability that makes it difficult to focus, or one that causes pain or decreased mobility. Perhaps you are stressed about how to pay for prescriptions or medical bills, when you know you really should be focusing on the task at hand, whatever it may be. The bottom line is, even if we have extenuating circumstances, chances are, we still have something in our life or our workplace that requires us to show up and “own it” – to be accountable.

If you need a partner in accountability, consider meeting with a PACE facilitator. We can help you set goals and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. It can be something as simple as sticking to a workout plan to improve your health, or as intimidating as learning to be an advocate for yourself or another person with a disability, or as complex as locating the right kind of assistive technology to adjust to a visual deficit. A PACE facilitator can be the person you report back to about the progress YOU are driving in your life. We can help you set goals and organize the steps to take to achieve them. We can’t do it for you, but we can be there with you and help you hold yourself accountable for your own independent living plan. Accountability is an important life skill that you can master to improve your independence and your long-term success. Sometimes all it takes is having another person on your team, and at PACE, we hope to be that for you.

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Speaking of accountability, don’t forget to call our leaders in Springfield, who should all be held accountable for the tasks we voted them into office to complete. Illinois needs a budget. Centers for Independent Living like PACE need a budget. We encourage you to contact Springfield today and remind your legislators that Centers of Independent Living are doing their work, and that our lawmakers should be as well. Tell them to pass a budget that includes funding for Centers of Independent Living and People With Disabilities.

Use this link and type in your address to find contact information for your local legislators.
Or you can call, write, or fax a message to Governor Rauner:

207 State Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244
Fax: 217-524-4049

Change: It Can Be Good!

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Groundhog Day was this week. That “special” day when we anxiously await to see
when change is coming. Of course we want Spring to come early, but I really don’t believe whether a groundhog, or any other object that can cast a shadow, really has anything to do with when Spring arrives. Change is going to happen, sooner or later.

Change is hard; even if it’s for a pleasant reason of the change of seasons. There is cleaning to do, storm windows to take down, lawn preparation, lawn furniture to drag out of storage, etc.

I’m sure we could all tell about changes in our lives that were difficult; or even some which are occurring right now. Change is always happening here at PACE. Staff comes and goes; our consumers come and achieve goals, then leave. Some come back when a new obstacle gets in the way of their independence.

Not only do the people we see change, but things change here too. I’ve worked here since November 2007. In that time I’ve worked under four different Program Directors; seen new paint and carpeting, two new copy machines, and technological changes too numerous to mention – or for me to understand. My responsibilities have changed too. Under one funding source, I worked with people with development and intellectual disabilities. Then funding changed and I work with many diagnoses. A small part of my job is to work in the Personal Assistant Program. Other things I do involve the Community Reintegration Program. I also do equipment loan, MTD Passes, and file maintenance. So just like any place of employment, staff at PACE wear many hats and must have the ability to accept change.

But the biggest change for me has been the implementation of a new software program all staff uses now to document the work we do. It’s called CILsFirst. With each phone call, each time we have contact or provide a service for a consumer, a goal is set, met or dropped; we enter that data into our data base. It’s only different from the method of writing on paper like we used to do in that it’s easier to retrieve for reports, and there is less paper used. This change has been hard, but it has been for the good.

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If are a person with a disability and would like support as you navigate the changes in your life, contact PACE today! One of our facilitators will discuss setting up an Independent Living Plan, which can include learning to feel better about yourself as you work through your challenges, or to locate local support groups, peer mentoring opportunities, or to develop problem-solving skills necessary for daily life. If we aren’t able to address your specific needs, we’re happy to direct you toward another solution!

Check back next week for more from PACE!

Dealing with Stress

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Transition Coordinator

Everyone experiences stress. There is no way to eliminate stress; however, there are ways to cope with it, and techniques to use to better cope with the impact stress has on a person.

The first thing that helps me is to stay aware of the warnings my body provides (i.e. frequent headaches, upset stomach, poor quality of sleep, feeling overemotional, becoming more forgetful, and increase in joint pain). When I begin to feel these patterns, I know it is time for me to slow down and take care of myself. It helps me to remember that negative things coming towards me are not about me. It helps me when I am realistic about my abilities and my disabilities. It helps me when I remind myself that other people do not have to understand me.

After I become aware that I’m beginning to feel very stressed and I remind myself of what is mine to carry and what is not mine to carry, I’m able to slow down and begin to take care of myself. I am better able to organize my thoughts and determine what my true responsibilities are and I realize my emotions are directly connected to the amount of stress I am feeling. I try to remember that stress is an internal thing that others may not be aware you are feeling and to what degree you are feeling it. I am then able to be more effective in completing my tasks and keeping up with my responsibilities. I find it helpful to write down a complete list of the things that I must do in order of importance. When writing a list, I try to remain mindful of other people’s need for my time. I believe this is of key importance as we interact in our work life, our home life, and in our social life.

After I have made my lists, completed my tasks, and fulfilled my responsibilities, I begin to focus on how I can let go of the stress that has built up in my body. There are many ways people find to relax. For me, I like to talk it out with a caring friend or family member, or to take a warm bath and put on my softest clothes, or feed myself healthy food. I also like to take some time alone with myself to think about how I can do my job better the next time. The true beauty of being human as we can always set a goal for ourselves to do better the next time.

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If you are a person with a disability and are interested in setting goals to work on dealing with your stress, give PACE a call today!

Visit us again next week for more from the PACE Staff!

New Ideas

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

As an organization, PACE thrives on the consumer-directed nature of our programs. This means that PACE and our services are made better when the people who utilize our services help design them.

There are indeed many ways that you, as a consumer and community member, can contribute toward helping ensure that PACE achieves our mission of ensuring that people have the opportunity to be as independent as they wish to be.

PACE hosts regular advisory committees for our different programs. At these various committee meetings, consumers provide input about the services they would like to see the program offer, as well as comments on what the program does well, and what we could do better.


• Community Reintegration Program – Thursday, January 29th at 1:00PM
• Deaf Advisory Committee – Thursday, February 18th at 6PM
• Visual Impairment North of 55 Advisory – Wednesday, March 2nd at 1:30PM
• Personal Assistant Advisory – Tuesday, March 22nd at 1PM
• Opportunities for Independence Advisory – Thursday, March 31st at 1PM

In addition to these advisories, we are always looking for input on our services, and clever ways we can spread the message out about disability awareness and independent living.

One of the ways we are looking at doing this is by distributing a quick and/or funny comment about the benefits of having a disability. First, we need your suggestions about what to call the comments, and secondly, we need comments. A great example is, “The upside about being blind, is that I’ve never seen road kill!”

Submit any of your ideas to jermaine@pacecil.org

We think that little comments like this that are distributed to the public will give people a new perspective on disabilities, and get people thinking about things they may otherwise not consider throughout their daily routines.

And if you have any ideas on how PACE can become more visible or how we can spread the word about independent living, email info@pacecil.org and let us know how we can keep the disability movement going forward.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

The Benefits of Participating in Support Groups

Submitted by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

When you think of support groups and group counseling, what comes to mind? That you’ll be forced to share your deepest, darkest secret or even to talk at all? That it’s not for you because you’re very independent and just won’t benefit? That all it is is listening to the leader talk? That it isn’t as effective as scheduling one-on-one appointments with your counselor or specialist? That you’ll be judged or criticized by others in the group?

If any of these concerns have crossed your mind, you are not alone! Many people are hesitant to try support groups. However, in the vast majority of situations, the concerns that I listed above are not true. Yes, there are some poorly run support groups, but not many. If you try a group out and you decide it’s not for you, it’s okay to seek out another group in the area.

There are many benefits of participating in support groups. Attending these groups helps people realize that they are not alone – that there are others dealing with similar issues. Also, being in a support group can help you develop new skills and teach you how to relate to others.

I encourage you to try a support group. PACE has a number of them to try out! Our groups have various focuses, from adjusting to low vision or blindness, to learning independent living skills, to support groups for the Deaf and hard of hearing to readying people to search for, and obtaining, a job. If you are looking for something different, you can visit the Family Service Self Help Center and search for other support groups, or give us a call at PACE and we’ll be happy to assist you in finding a group that meets your needs.

Contact PACE if you would like more information regarding support groups or group counseling.

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Check back with us next week for more from the PACE staff!

Deaf Etiquette: What To Say vs. What Not To Say

Submitted by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services and Volunteer Coordinator

Do you struggle to determine the right and wrong things to say to a Deaf person? I want to add a positive element to it. In a conversation I had within the Deaf Community, we discussed the fact that a lot of times, people just don’t know much about Deaf culture/community, or that such a thing even exists. People outside the Deaf community may do or say something that is offensive or off-putting, but it’s not because they’re being malicious – they may just think they’re helping.  People just may not know the right way to handle a situation. It was something to think about. In this post you’ll not only learn what NOT to do, but what TO do when communicating with a Deaf person. Enjoy! And don’t hesitate to give us a call here at PACE if you are in need of further education or have any questions!


Say, “Wow you speak so well for a Deaf person.”


Realize if you really want to comment on their speech, say it a different way.  The offensive part is “for a Deaf person.”


Say, “You must be really smart to be able to talk.”


Realize that if you want to comment on their speech, you could say, “you speak really well.” or “You must have worked really hard on your speech.” Any level of speech is hard work, often involving hours and hours of lessons.  Remember: speech doesn’t indicate intelligence.  You may mean well, but make sure what you’re saying is actually nice and not demeaning.


Say, “Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?”


Ask them about the assistive device they do use.  Or ask them about their decision to not use a CI or hearing aid (if they don’t use them).


Say, “Have you thought about getting ear transplants?”


Think before you speak.  There are no such things.


Say, “You have hearing aids, shouldn’t you hear normally now?”


If you truly want to learn about their hearing aids, ask them a more in-depth and specific question.  What is their hearing loss?  How effective are their hearing aids?  Do they like them?  What are some of the hard things about using a hearing aid?

Cochlear implants and hearing aids really are personal decision.

  • Cochlear implants are not a cure-all.
  • You still don’t hear the same way a hearing person does.
  • They don’t always work.
  • They are not reversible.
  • The surgery can be incredibly painful and recovery can be difficult.
  • There can be complications.
  • They are at least $30,000.

If they are what an individual wants to use — awesome!  If they don’t, that’s awesome too.  Be respectful in the way you approach this highly sensitive topic. Hearing aids mostly amplify the background sounds.  Have you ever watched a movie where the soundtrack was loud, but you couldn’t hear the actors?   You turn up the volume but you still can’t hear.  Or, pretend you’re in a crowded cafeteria and you’re trying to hear the person across from you, that’s what it is like.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Advocacy: Educate and Enlighten

Submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Over the years I have noticed many different reactions to advocacy. It has become apparent that some people are made for it – they love it. They excel at it. Others know the importance of it and will take part how ever they are comfortable.  Some like to talk directly to decision makers, some like to write, others call, and some live for the demonstration. Yet others feel awkward about advocacy. One consumer’s parents said they didn’t “want him out making trouble, like a hippie.” Advocacy, to them, meant holding signs and chanting or publicly shaming people.  Advocacy is simply defined as promoting /supporting. In the case of access, that is more often than not, done by educating.

We all have our priorities; they differ from person to person. You need the person you are advocating with to either insert your priority into his or move it up in his list.    How do you do that? Educating is often a way that shortcuts the whole process. Very often the “average Joe” has no disability experience, or what experience they do have is very limited. He simply doesn’t see what you see about the situation. The best advocate I ever knew told me she just talked about bare necessities: the need for the change. She believed in the basic good of people and if they understood, “they will want to do the right thing.” She was moving her need up in their priorities through enlightenment.

One of my early experiences was years ago when a consumer called and said he had reached the point with his landlord that the landlord would not take his calls any longer. The consumer wanted the landlord to scoop the snow from the sidewalk so he could get to his car…not an out of line request, so how was there a problem?  First of all, the landlord wasn’t scooping until later in the day but the consumer needed to get to work. So the consumer called and left messages, and the landlord eventually started scooping earlier. Still, he was getting messages from the consumer. That was about the time he got fed up and quit responding at all. The consumer was just trying to point out that the pathway was not wide enough for his wheelchair.  It was a nice clear walkway for those who walk, but the landlord wasn’t considering the use of the wheelchair. We wrote a letter from PACE with the need for wider walk way and a thank you for the effort already put forth. After the letter, the landlord started scooping a wider path and everyone was content. The landlord did do the right thing – once he understood.

You see, sometimes advocacy is simply about increasing the public’s understanding. Encouraging them to change their perspective and consider the need. It really can be as simple as that.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Hidden Costs of the Illinois Budget Crisis

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

I was a good student growing up. I paid attention and studied hard. Things were relatively easy for me (until advanced math courses came along in high school – ha!). I took for granted the fact that I would finish high school and go to community college, thanks to help from my parents. Eventually, I would complete my bachelor’s degree, which would cost me a fair amount in student loans – but I still always knew the opportunity was there for me, and I never questioned the fact that I would have some sort of an education.

For people with disabilities or limited financial means, an education may not be so easy to come by. It can take a lot more effort, time, patience, and resources to simply complete high school. An individual is then at risk to enter adulthood without even a GED, a basic requirement for many employment opportunities. When this is the case, the cycle may then be perpetuated. People who have low income and poor education remain oppressed, and as a result, their children are at risk for the same, and so on…

At PACE, we can work with our consumers who have educational goals and may need a bit of guidance from a facilitator to accomplish goals they’ve set for themselves. I was in the midst of this recently with a current consumer, who is interested in acquiring her GED but has been struggling in her current program. We decided to reach out to Parkland College, one of many local community colleges that offer adult education programs such as GED completion and English as a Second Language. We were excited to get her set up and ready to start the program, and to also utilize the additional resource of Parkland’s Office of Disability Services for an added extra layer of support for her educational goals.

Upon contacting Parkland, we were informed that all Adult Education courses were postponed until further notice. Any guesses as to why?? If you guessed lack of state funding, you were right. Sadly, my consumer has hit yet another road block on the path toward her educational goals because the State of Illinois cannot come to an agreement on how to solve the budget crisis.

I would like to take a moment to remind our readers to reach out to state legislators. Let them know that the budget crisis is effecting thousands of people in need of services across the state, and that they need to reach an agreement before it’s too late. Opportunities are being lost. Families, people with disabilities, and the elderly are all at risk. It’s time for legislators to come to an agreement so that the people who need state services can move on with their lives.

It takes a lot of bravery to reach out as an adult and attempt to further your education. With help from facilitators at PACE, consumers can navigate the steps toward reaching their educational goals, but until a budget agreement is reach, we are all on hold. Contact state legislators today and flex your advocacy muscles! If you need information on who/how to contact them, give us a call at 217-344-5433. Thanks in advance!

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Challenges of the Holiday Season

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Ahhh – Thanksgiving… It’s a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. But some of us might be feeling we don’t have a very long list, or feel that ours is empty. Other people might run out of ink before they get their list complete! Mine would be a long list; but at the same time, it causes me to reflect on those who have much shorter or even empty lists.

Is it simply a matter of attitude? Or does one have to have everything to be thankful for anything? What kind of giver of thanks are you?

I know people that have plenty of money, a nice home, people that love them, and have full use of all their body parts, but still lack a sense of peace. And I’ve known people who have less financially, have lost touch with their families, have medical issues, or are a person with a disability, and they believe they have much for which they are grateful.

Let’s also consider the upcoming holiday season. Does the advent of Christmas or Chanukah send you into melancholy, depression, or anxiety? Even in the best of relationships, these holidays can cause people to feel some anxiety, due to the extra pressures we may believe are demanded of us. We second guess ourselves about preparing “correctly,” and being around people we normally don’t live with, regardless of how much we love and enjoy them, can bring on stress.

Plus there are temptations! There are many rich foods and drink we don’t normally touch, including alcohol, and it may make us feel pressured to and eat or drink when we know it to be unhealthy. Or we may avoid items we need to have, because we do not want people to notice that we need something different; we don’t want to feel that we are an inconvenience, and thus treat ourselves poorly in the process. And also, be aware of the temptation to spend money you might not have!

If you are struggling with any of these issues, there is a facilitator at PACE that can help you get through these difficult, yet perhaps pleasant, holidays. Some support groups and worship organizations have programs that help during the difficulties of this time of year. I once saw a poster that said, “The only part of my life I can really control is my ATTITUDE!”

Take a look at the lives you touch this season, and be aware of life circumstances that might make the season difficult for others, or even for yourself.

I hope your Thanksgiving was enjoyable. And I hope your holiday season is as stress free as you can make it.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE! And a special reminder – be sure to attend our Independent Living Skills Group on Monday, December 21st at 6 p.m. We’ll discuss this very topic!

The Positive Impact of Independent Living

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Coordinator

Often in our jobs, our day-to-day tasks become overwhelming and we forget about the impact we can have when we help others. The PACE reintegration team recently assisted a family move back to the community from a nursing institution. This wonderful couple had been separated in institutions for years due to illness and disability. A short time ago a letter was received at PACE that truly highlights the impact we can each have when we reach out to help others regain their dignity, self-determination and independence.

The family writes about how wonderful it will be to be safe and warm this winter in a home of their own. The letter speaks of feeling safe and happy knowing they are finally together. They speak of the joy and excitement they had on the day they moved into their new community home and of the appreciation they have to all the people who helped them put their independent life back together. They state that, through the help of others, they will be able to start a new story that is full of joy, friends and family.

After reading this letter I feel renewed energy and determination to continue to assist others in their journey toward independence. Often, the work of reintegration is hard and demanding – it’s easy to get lost in all of the tasks that have to be completed on the road to assisting someone move back to the community. But when we take the time to realize the impact we can have in assisting people with disabilities as they build the life of their own choosing, the long hard days at work are forgotten and the joy is all that is remembered.

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Be sure to check back again soon for more from PACE!

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

Having a disability in today’s world is different from before. While there have been changes in terms of physical, social, and attitudinal access, some of the biggest changes/advances have come in the area of Assistive Technology: technology that is designed to help those with disabilities or special needs lead more productive and independent lives. Here is a small sample of the technology available. (Please note: while I specifically mention the names of organizations, there are multiple resources for similar information.)

VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer) is being developed to be a wearable vest which takes sound-waves and converts them into vibrating pulses a wearer feels on their back. The aim for VEST is to be a low-cost, non-invasive piece of assistive technology which will allow the Deaf to more fully experience the world. Read more about VEST here.

Navigate and experience the world with Animotus. It is a 3-D navigation device that allows the visually impaired to use GPS easily. Currently, people with low-vision who use GPS put on headphones to hear directions, and this blocks their hearing. Animotus is a cube which shape-shifts to tell a person which direction to turn. Read more about Animotus here.

Augmented Communication is in constant change. “Scene and Heard Communication” is a mobile application designed to allow those with severe speech difficulties to communicate. Pick what you want to say on the screen and have the phone verbalize it. Read more about Scene and Heard Communication here.

For information on mobile apps specifically targeted at accessibility, go to www.bridgingapps.com. This site has hundreds of apps listed by the particular accessibility challenge they aid with, has detailed reviews, and has the cost of the app.

“Assistive Technology Update” and “ATFAQ (Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions)” are podcasts put out by Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. These podcasts explore different topics in assistive technology, and give listeners the opportunity to hear from leaders in the field. Visit Easter Seals here.

Every state has an “Assistive Technology Act Program.” These programs are designed to give people with disabilities access to assistive technology. Each of these programs offers device loans, and many offer cash loans to assist with the purchase of technology. To find your state’s program, go to here. This website is run by the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, and is a great resource for not only locating the program in your state, but also for finding out about advocacy efforts dealing with assistive technology.

Use #assistivetech on Twitter, and find out the latest information on what’s happening in the world of assistive technology.

Whichever way you find out about this world of assistive tech, remember that it is all about access and independence. It is important you find the technology which works best for you. The point of technology is to empower independence, but without knowledge of the technology, access is lost.

Post-Graduation Transition for Students with Disabilities

Contributed by Dylan Boot, MS, CRC, Independent Living Specialist

Recent changes in legislation and policy have led to a rejuvenated effort by Centers for Independent Living (CILs) nationwide to provide transitional support to young adults with disabilities graduating high school. When I was hired back in May and first heard about this, I jumped at the chance to be the lead person to help get PACE ready for this change. Why? Not too long ago I was the one graduating high school and I remember how nervous and frightened I was to suddenly be solely responsible for the decisions that I made in a great, big, often unforgiving world.

Youth with disabilities often have a vast support system consisting of family, friends, teachers and other special education professionals. This support system is very important and usually has the youth’s best interests at heart. However, the downside to this is after graduation much of this support (particularly from their school) fades away suddenly, leaving the youth to make his/her own decisions. If he/she has not been guided and prepared for this challenge, it can be quite terrifying and young adults often simply end up staying at home with their parents and not living their lives to their fullest potential. It can be scary even if the youth is ready, as I was… well, for the most part, anyway!

The good news is: there are organizations out there that can pick up the slack and provide support similar to what the schools had provided. CILs, including PACE, are on that list of organizations. All young adults have to do is seek us out! PACE staff, including myself, are more than willing to sit down and help establish an independent living plan and goals that will help the young adult along a path to achieve his/her dreams. There is one crucial difference though: all the decision making power lies with the young adult, not the PACE staff member.

Unfortunately, few are told of the resources available to them upon graduating high school (or even beforehand). If you are reading this, you probably already know of the services available at PACE. However, if you’ve just found us or if you know of a young adult with a disability that may not know about us, contact us or simply stop by our office and learn about our services. Chances are very likely that we can assist you in improving your life in some way. We are here to help!

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE, Inc.!

An Alternate Halloween History Lesson: October 31st, 2015

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

The old worlds of Egyptians, Hebrews, and others allowed a person being persecuted to have protection within their borders, away from those who would do them harm. This passed into Greece, where asylum was often granted in various alters and churches, to be adopted later by modern church and state. And this, in several cases, was good and righteous.

In this same time, we find that people with disabilities were quite misunderstood, and what was unknown, or scary, had people placed in places away from harm: in asylums.

People with Epilepsy were said to be possessed by demons fighting to get out. A young lady, who had suffered abuse, was said to have been “tempted by the devil,” to cover up an inconvenient pregnancy. People would be placed in an asylum because others did not take the time to understand what was going on with the person who had a mental or physical disability. Maybe, a son would be left to inherit, and he was a “demon spawn,” instead of morally placing the blame where it belonged; there were easy answers.

These were to be places to care for those who could not, for whatever reason, care for themselves. Or so they claimed.

Asylums sold tickets; and people viewed those who were suffering at the hands of “those who know best” as they continued to mistreat, experiment, and drug people into frenzy or submission.
The care of these people was placed in the hands of those who would be responsible for their well-being in every way possible. It did not matter if a person had a disability or not, everyone was placed together, and many were turned from humans into something else: subjects.
Test subjects.

Although true, without this, some medicines would not have been discovered as quickly; it does not excuse the mistakes of the past.

We feel relief knowing it was in the past. Here and now, we do not think like that, we do not stereotype or discriminate in that manner.

But let us stop and think – maybe for a minute or two… is this true? Does your haunted house look like an asylum? Instantly, asylum equals scary. Why? Does it have scary monsters, movie characters, something of fantasy? Or does it show people with physical or mental illness as scary? What of that scary TV show on cable? Or that scary movie everyone wants tickets to see?

History is again repeating itself: instead of trying to understand people with disabilities, we are again being misunderstood, shown to be scary, and displayed – for a price…

The Power of Kindness

Submitted by Matthew Robertson, Transition Coordinator

Being a person without a disability, I don’t understand all of the true struggles a person with a disability or multiple disabilities may go through. I’ve seen people in public – at a grocery store, for example – in a power chair that the store provides; try to reach something on the top shelf with some struggle. That person may be very strong willed and/or may not ask for help, in order to remain as independent as possible, and rightfully so. I’ve also seen the people that walk by without a care in the world as to whether that person may need help or not, and this bugs me.

Did the woman trying to reach crackers need help? Did she want help? Did she feel like it would be a burden to ask? These questions bother me to go unanswered when some may just say, “She’s riding around in the store’s power chair, and she’s just lazy.” Yes, she may be able to stand and take a couple steps, but that doesn’t mean those steps aren’t very painful. We don’t know what everyone has been through and that’s okay, as long as judgments are not made.

It is not an obligation to help everyone you think needs help, or appears less able than you, because they may be very capable! I just feel that if you are a kind soul and see a person, with a disability or not, having a hard time, ask if they would like some help. Smile, be kind, wish them a wonderful day, but most of all, be understanding.

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Be sure to check back next Friday for more from PACE!

Respectfully Filling The Void

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

Reading is among my favorite hobbies. I read everything written on whatever; tablets, computers, yard signs, posters, billboards, etc. My favorites are books; I enjoy the weight, the turn of the page, the lignin scent ….

Print-size can be smaller, and lighting may not be ideal, but as the weather changes; snuggling-up with a blanket and warm books; whether sitting in the living-room, on the porch, a swing, or where-ever is comfortable and listening to the voices of characters as they go through their journeys is cherished.

I like knowing when a StarTrek spinoff named a character Odo, it was “a nod” to the St. Odos of long-ago. My favorite is St. Odo of Canterbury who loved books and languages. I also admire St. Hildegrad of Bigen, who was a polyhister (an expert in several fields), who wrote about science, and medicine, and used her influence to write music and books. St. Hildegard suffered blindness from migraines that she turned into influential messages; we too can turn our disabilities into power.

We may not be saints, but we can use our voices to convey important messages.

Famous authors use the same themes in a more modern sense.

Tolkien writes about the seemingly simple themes of good versus bad within a grand background; but in the end, it is a single character, whose choices make the difference. “Even the smallest person can change the course of history.”

Frodo claimed his destiny, when it seemed easier to give-up; you are aware he doid not succeed alone or dredge without cheer. He was with friends, which traveled with him side-by-side. They didn’t hold the same burden, but together, they walked the same journey; each with different perspectives, and with their own unique abilities and disabilities. “Deeds will not be less valiant because they are upraised.” Together they made the journey complete.

Will a heavy burden, cause you to submit or will you overcome and set in motion the choices of what is “good” and “right” against the odds that seem impossible?

“It is not the strength of the body, but the strength of the spirit.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

In the Narnia books;, Aslan, gives animals the power of speech and then commands them to use that “power for justice and merriment.” C.S. Lewis also shows the theme of responsibility but not without balance; care of oneself, including enjoyment.

We may think we cannot do anything or the burden too overwhelming; but we can join our voices (written or otherwise) with those lives we touch; even unknowingly. We need to allow our friends to support us, speak together, and speak out ourselves. Together we can make the journey….

….But I linger; as the wind rustles; turning over a new page, and begin again.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Where would we be without CILs?

Contributed by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Thirty years ago this community was excited and relieved to finally have a place where the needs of people who have disabilities were addressed. I remember it clearly, as the brand new PACE was like a dry sponge soaking up a flood of people with unmet needs. We have increased from two to twelve people and now serve five counties – still a bit of a stretch – but now Illinois is experiencing a budget impasse. What will that do to PACE consumers and the other Illinois CILs consumers that rely on Independent Living services being there to support their effort to maintain or achieve independence?

I keep thinking about this when I look at the budget impasse. Our Accountant, Staff, Board and volunteers are doing our very best to keep things going. But we could really use your support.

Telling your legislators how you use PACE, and what you have accomplished with the help of Centers for Independent Living is important. Let them know how ill-equipped mainstream services can be when you need services tailored to disability needs. If you are Deaf, tell them about all the times you have had to explain to service providers (with no interpreter) about their responsibility to hire an interpreter. Who will be there to explain the pros and cons of disclosing a disability to a potential employer? Who will tell the mother of a child with a disability where to get information when she knows very little about education access and processes and she sees her very bright kid having trouble in school? Will there be anyone to catch other needs for adaptive equipment, medical advocacy, peer support and so on? Who will recruit people with disabilities to sit on decision-making boards that shape our lives? Where is the oasis for people who have disabilities – where they don’t have to explain and advocate for everything they need? Where will be that source of pride and dignity where we all rejuvenate by simply being there among others who “get it”?

Tell the Governor what you feel about the services centers like PACE, Inc. offer in Illinois. Encourage your family and friends to make their feelings known as well. Now is the time to speak out. Sign up on the PACE website to receive advocacy alerts through the legislative tree. We tell you when there is an opportunity to voice your opinion about an issue that affects the disability community. Now is the time to speak out about the budget and what you need. Americans with Disabilities have come a long way, but we still have far to go.

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Be sure to come back next week for more from PACE! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more frequent updates!

Disability Employment Awareness Month

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

Personally, October is my absolute favorite month. We celebrate our wedding anniversary and my husband’s birthday, there are pumpkin-flavored pastries and apple cider overflowing store shelves, the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, there are bonfires and hayrides galore… What’s not to love about this month?

In addition to all of the lovely October goodies listed above, did you know that October is also Disability Employment Awareness Month? This month, we celebrate the contributions made to the workforce by people with disabilities. If it weren’t for people like Ed Roberts, Judy Heumann, and Justin Dart (all people with disabilities whose work was invaluable to the disability rights movement), my coworkers and I would not be here today. Because Ed, Judy, and Justin focused on what they could do instead of what they couldn’t do, people with disabilities now have a voice and a chance to demonstrate the contributions they are able to make to the workforce today. It is our responsibility to continue to ensure people with disabilities are able to work if they choose. We are MORE than our disabilities. We are real individuals with real skills, knowledge, talents and the educational and/or vocational background to contribute greatly to the world around us. May we never assume a person is less capable simply because they are blind, or deaf or use a wheelchair. May we give EACH person with a disability the chance to show just how great their contributions can be.

PACE plans to begin a job skills training group for people with disabilities in the near future. Please stay tuned and call us if you have questions.

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – Anne of Green Gables


**Be sure to check back next Friday for more news from PACE!

Advocates For Access: Advocacy is a Core Service

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Did you know PACE holds monthly open meetings to organize advocacy efforts? This meeting is known as Advocates for Access (AFA). Advocacy is, and has been, a core service area of PACE, and the Independent Living Movement, from its beginning. Installation of audible crosswalks, preventing construction of roundabouts, and captioned movies in local theaters are examples of AFA efforts to make our community more accessible to people with disabilities.

Our advocates also educate businesses and government agencies about accessibility. We have a flyer for business owners with the title “Accessibility is Good Business.” If a store owner or manager wonders if they are serving all potential customers, we are eager to do an assessment of their facility and point out how to make their business more accessible to people with disabilities – a market they may be missing. Just because a person has a disability does not mean they don’t have money to spend.

With the passage of the ADA and its enforcement in regard to curb cuts and other architectural changes allowing accessibility for all, there have been improvements in physical barriers. However attitudinal
and systemic barriers still exist. With fewer physical barriers in our community there has been a recent need for advocacy beyond the local level and dealing with systemic and attitudinal barriers. For example, is it right for a person to only have $2,000 in assets if they are on SSI? This prevents people with disabilities from saving money beyond what they might need for emergencies.

The heart of AFA is our volunteers and consumers. If you are aware of an unfair issue needing to be addressed, we hope you will consider taking action to correct it. One way is to join AFA and become involved. Meetings are held, here at PACE, the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in the conference room. All are welcome.

*It is best to call in advance in case of a rare schedule change.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Illinois

Contributed by Deanna Power at Social Security Disability Help

If you or a loved one has a disability, you will know that additional expenses are endless, from medical bills, to therapy, to home alterations. Whether you’re unable to work and need assistance or require help with meeting your child’s needs, Social Security Disability (SSD) may provide the support you require.

SSD programs include:

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI) –pays benefits to disabled individuals of any age as long as they meet the income/financial resource requirements

• Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – pays benefits to qualified disabled workers who have worked throughout their lives and paid Social Security taxes
Both programs require that you have a severe disability, and medically qualifying is the same for both SSDI and SSI. Once approved for disability, you may also receive medical coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.

• Medicare is automatically available to people who have been disabled for at least 24 months.

• Medicaid may be available to SSI recipients, though in Illinois you must submit a separate application for benefits.

You can apply for Medicaid at any Department of Human Services (DHS) office in the state. If you qualify for Medicare, you’ll automatically receive enrollment information from Medicare prior to your eligibility date.

Medically Qualifying for Benefits in Illinois:

In Illinois, only about 32 percent of applicants receive an approval during the first review of their claim. You can increase your chances of approval by:

• Having a detailed and accessible medical history


• Matching or meeting a Blue Book listing.

The Blue Book is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) list of impairments and contains information on the medical records required to support a claim for benefits. You can find the full Blue Book online here. Work closely with your doctor to ensure:

• Your medical records reflect your mental and physical limitations


• Your medical history contains the tests and other diagnostic information the SSA requires for your specific condition.

If you don’t meet a Blue Book listing, you may still get benefits through a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis. The SSA looks at your daily abilities and limitations to determine if you’re disabled.

If both of these avenues fail, you can appeal your denial. In Illinois, a little over half of applicants are approved after appealing.

Applying for SSD in Illinois:

SSDI applications can be completed online or at your local SSA office. SSI applications require a local appointment. Here are just a few of the nearly 50 offices in Illinois at which you can submit applications:

• Champaign – 101 S. Country Fair Dr., Champaign, IL 61821
• Danville – 400 N. Vermilion St., Danville, IL 61832
• Peoria – 815 W. Pioneer Pkwy, Peoria, IL 61615
• Springfield – 3112 Constitution Dr., Springfield, IL 62704
• Springfield – 2715 West Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62704

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Be sure to check back next Friday for more from PACE!

First Look, Second Sight

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

Live sporting events are some of the most action packed, thrilling, and communal events which society has to offer. And often, due to their nature, lighting, sound quality, aisles, and lack of central focus, they can be some of the most difficult events for people with all manner of varying disabilities to attend, and thus participate in this integral part of our social fabric.

This topic arose in my mind last night as I, a person who is legally blind, was looking for tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game (I haven’t decided where yet). One of my newer acquaintances called, and replied, “but you wouldn’t be able to see the field…” when I told them that I was looking at treating myself to this little excursion.

Let’s ignore that many people with “perfect” vision say they have trouble seeing the field when sitting at the top of an NFL stadium, and dive into the more pertinent part of this discussion. While it is true that I can’t see the field, and making it to and from my seat and the concession stands may be a bit more difficult, I can truly say it’s about the atmosphere—the ebb and flow of the crowd, hi-fiving (or taunting) the people around me, and simply just having the experience.

If you notice, many of the items I cited as being benefits might not be accessible for persons with other disabilities attending sporting events. For those with mobility issues—accessible seating is often separated from other seating, and there may not be the opportunity for interaction with other fans. And for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, there may be no access to the announcements across the PA system.

So while most everyone gets a better view from home, there’s often a much better experience in the stands.

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Be sure to check back later this week for more from PACE!

Working Together, One Step at a Time

Contributed by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

When Ed Roberts started the Disability Rights Movement back in the 1960s, it was a movement for everybody. People with all types of disabilities were welcomed and valued. When people were fighting to get the American’s with Disabilities Act passed in the late 1980s, again, people with all disabilities came together in partnership and spoke with one voice.

This sense of togetherness and friendship is just as important now as it was then. There are still many problems to be fixed and issues for which to advocate. Even though some of these things affect certain disabilities more than others, it definitely helps when everyone supports each other. There is more to gain when working together than we get when working separately. You may have heard that there is strength in numbers; this is definitely true in our case!

As we struggle for equality in our society, we must be sure to treat ourselves equally as well. No disability is above any other. We must also keep in mind that we cannot always see a person’s disability but that does not mean it is not there, nor is it any less important.

People with different disabilities have different perspectives, different abilities and strengths, and different ways to help our cause. Treat people… all people… the way you would like to be treated.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi lived by this mantra, and while we all can’t be Gandhi, we can all work together to bring about positive changes to this world. It all begins with an idea and a single step…

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Check back next Friday for a brand new blog!

Increasing Internet Accessibility for the Deaf

Contributed by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

Twenty-five years ago, few television shows or movies were captioned. Today, thanks to advancing technology and Federal Law, you can turn on the television and watch most shows with captions. Also, thanks to improved technology and the volunteer efforts of movie studios and movie distributors, you can now buy or rent many DVDs with captions.

Increasingly, people are watching television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet. People can download these television shows and movies from the Internet and watch them on their computers or other internet enabled devices. Additionally, people may decide to save these shows and watch them later. However, almost none of these television shows and movies, even television shows which were captioned in their original release, are captioned when redistributed over the Internet. Presently, only a fraction of the multimedia on the Internet must be captioned or otherwise made accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Many organizations such as Centers for Independent Living, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and state associations of the deaf, continue to advocate for increased Internet captioning. The law is generally clear that government agencies must make their websites accessible. The law is less clear about business websites. Finally, the law does not require television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet to be captioned… yet.

The NAD Law and Advocacy Center is seeking to make changes to the Communications Act that will expand the television Closed Captioning rules to television program producers and distributors who redistribute television programs or other video over the Internet.
People are also advocating for broadband Internet access to be available, affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Below is a link to a law you may not know about. Some sections apply to our daily life:

The Communications Act of 1934 found online at:


Section 225 (Relay Services)
Section 255 (Accessible Equipment and Services)
Section 710 (Hearing Aid Compatibility)
Section 713 (Video Programming Accessibility).

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Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back with us next week for more info from PACE!

Overcoming an Injury

Contributed by Matthew Robertson, Reintegration Specialist

At twelve, I went on my first hunting trip with my adoptive family. It was a great experience in nature until Ryan set his shotgun on the truck tailgate and BANG!

There I was; falling backwards into the ditch behind me grabbing my thigh in agony as blood soaked my coveralls. Through the deafening ring of the shot and the immediate confusion I heard screaming, “What happened!?” Seconds felt like hours. With enough adrenaline, I ran to the truck. My adoptive-father and Shawn, who was also shot, got in and we sped off. I was going unconscious. Shawn knifed my coveralls open. He saw major blood loss and cut off circulation with his hands. At the hospital he courageously picked me up, hobbling into the ER saying, “treat him first!”

After lying in the hospital for hours pushing the pain medication button countless times, the pain was still severe. When it was time to go home, I was panicking over what felt like unrelenting cramps that tore muscle. My leg was stiff and it was a nightmare.

At home all I did was lie in bed and take meds. I only got up to eat, clean the wound and use the bathroom. I was immediately depressed. I started as a Forward in basketball and we wanted to fulfill our dream of going to State playoffs; that dream died.

The next morning was the worst experience of all. My adoptive-mother told me, “You’ve gotta move your leg.” I could barely move. “I can’t!”

She pushed my leg toward my chest and pulled out relentlessly. I was screaming to get her to stop to no avail. After minutes of terror, I realized I could move my leg some. I was determined that my leg WOULDN’T stiffen up again. I got out of bed and thought of every painful step as one toward recovery; becoming myself again.

After one week, I begged coach to let me practice. He said when I could hop, I could start. I started putting weight on my leg, which seemed impossible. I broke down, and got angry; “Why did this happen to me!?” Every fall I rose from more determined. I hobbled when I ran and could jump awkwardly. Coach made me practice against our biggest player and told me that to strengthen myself, I had to push beyond my doubts and work through the pain. He was right. Sectionals came and I felt ready although not completely healed. Coach finally put me in. Within seconds the opposing team in-bounded the ball, which I intercepted. A fight for the ball started and two players knocked me over and the pain was back. With teammates and the crowd helping, I got up and made free-throws.

I did it.

Although badly injured, help from family and friends eased recovery. If my adoptive-mom wouldn’t have forced me into stretching my leg, I may have waited weeks to deal with the excruciating pain. I then realized I could get better despite injury. That enabled the ability to say, “This is horrible, but I can change this!” That challenged me; set the goal of getting back on the court. This experience showed me that no matter what impairment anyone may have, there are people who will help you recover, even when it may be painful to do so; they will be there every step of the way.

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At PACE, we want to be here for you whether you are recovering from an injury or living independently with a disability. Don’t forget to check back next week for more thoughts from the staff at PACE!

Illumination on “One Thousand Points of Light”

Contributed by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

“I don’t exist when you don’t see me
I don’t exist when you’re not here
What the eye don’t see won’t break the heart
You can make believe when we’re apart
But when you leave I disappear
When you don’t see me…”

~Bruhn, Andreas / Taylor, Andrew

Oft we miss what we do not see, what we cannot see or what we refuse to see. And often, people either do not show, or hide symptoms of a disability. Sadly, to say out-loud, “I am a person with a disability,” is somehow is looked down upon or stigmatized in our society. Or inversely looked upon as some sort of hero-worship, if a person that has a disability can do it, then so can I. Or worse yet, dismissed with a single thought, “Even I can do that…”
In the dark of night, we feel all that is negative seemingly enter us and we become alone.
Many of us become guilty of no longer talking or visiting “those people” as they take too much time, or we feel if we hurry through this for them, it will somehow get to the point we used to be. We find it easier to complete their sentences or finish other things they have started. We rush to have things like they were before.

It is the same with any disability or loss. It will never be “the same.” It will be different and it is almost certainly unfair.

Then we think, perhaps there is hope, and we expect that anything is possible. It is further possible, we reason, you did not abandon us because of what we cannot do; but rather there was another reason, and we begin to see the light.

We no longer will sit in the shadows lonely; we start slowly feeling, reaching, learning anew, and move to become independent. Adaptation revolves around a variety forms, and for those who feel the light begin to slowly warm their rightful place, we now envision a world where put in our rightful claim: we belong!

The simplest of ideas, now are reached with a friendly hand, or planned into smaller bits that progress naturally, almost unnoticed. We can visualize when you honorably come back to “see” us again. We dutifully and even loving accept you. Perhaps our lives will look upon a time when we foresee that blossom; and will not be who you left, but rather who we become.

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Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

Eliminating Barriers

Submitted by Nancy McClellan Hickey, Executive Director at PACE, Inc.

Centers for Independent Living are cross-disability. That means we serve all types of disability.

A simple statement but a rather revolutionary concept. First of all, a lot of people don’t see the link between all disabilities. That is a powerful link – barriers to independence. For the Deaf it may be communication barriers, for a person using a wheelchair it might be stairs, for someone with a mental illness it could be stigma. Though the barriers change in nature they are still barriers. CILs work with consumers to identify and eliminate barriers to their independence. Sometimes the barriers are the consumers own attitude after being surrounded by years of doubt from others. We don’t fix people, we rearrange the environment so to speak. People with disabilities are not broken, they are unique and so their needs are not always addressed in the way the world sets up for John Q Public. Some would say John is “normal”. I would not. I would say John is average. This is the revolutionary concept, setting up the environment instead of labeling people as broken.

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Be sure to check back every week for more from PACE!

What does independence mean to you?

Contributed by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

Independence can look very different from one person to the next. For some, independence means working with a personal care aide to get dressed, prepare a meal, and get to work. For others, independence means using adaptive eyewear while out running errands or participating in hobbies. Although it may not look the same from person to person, the ability to live life independently is a right we at PACE do not take for granted.

Through my work at PACE, I can help facilitate independence for people who feel they may have lost a sense of it in their own lives. One of the programs I get to be a part of is Illinois’s free amplified phone program through an organization called Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation, or ITAC. I recently worked with a man who was in his nineties. He still lives completely independently at home, but has a hearing impairment and simply cannot hear to talk on the phone. This makes him feel isolated and at times, unsafe – how would he call out in case of an emergency if he can’t hear the person on the other end of the line? If his son calls to check on him and there’s something he needs, how would he communicate if he can’t hear through the receiver? After spending some time talking with him about his life, his background, and his goals related to communication via telephone, we tested phones and decided on one that worked best for him. He was amazed at how well he could hear his son’s voice on the amplified phone he chose, and he was touched that someone took the time to sit with him and talk. What he said to me at the end of our appointment really stuck: “I feel like you actually listened to me. You’re talking to me just like I’m a normal person – not talking around me, or over me, or just to my son here… Thank you for that.” For this consumer, independence meant not only communicating independently via telephone, but being given the opportunity to be communicated with – to feel as though he is a person, not just another number in the system.

We all have different paths to independence, and while the route may take different turns from one person to another, we at PACE can be here to help you navigate the twists and turns, and to lend a listening ear along the way.

Speaking Up

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

I’m a little bit shy in front of crowds. Sometimes when an opportunity to say something is past, I regret letting my shyness get in the way of speaking up.

Such an occasion occurred Saturday, July 25, 2015 at the PACE Picnic at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Board members, staff, consumers, and friends gathered for a celebration of the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). It was a fine celebration with hotdogs on the grill, good side servings, beverages and a cake commemorating why we were celebrating. There was storytelling, games, awards, a raffle, and lots of good conversation among our friends. I even met some consumers that I never see because other staff serve them, which is always nice.

But on the way home, I thought Gosh, I wish I would have thanked the board for having the foresight to keep enough money in reserves, and protect our line of credit, to ride out these rough times as the state struggles with the budget. It has been a worry to EVERYONE who rely on our state government to responsibly pay for social services. Of course, the staff at PACE was concerned what would become of our consumers, and our jobs, come July 1st. I consider it a blessing that our consumers are continuing to be served, and I continue to get paid. I think we have all had to consider what we would do if the state social services no longer received services, or if our State government would collapse. What would you do?

I’m just so grateful the good board members and administrators here at PACE are on top of things.

Glenna beautifully illustrated how shyness can be a trait that gets in the way when we’re trying to communicate with others. We at PACE want to remind you that if you are a person with a disability who wants to create a goal focusing on increasing your assertiveness, we are here to help facilitate that! Assertiveness is a skill that takes time to master. You don’t have to do it alone!

Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

Facing Fear

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Transition Coordinator

Living an independent life after institutionalization: Facing fear.

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of to-day’s failures, but of success that may come to-morrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will have a joy in overcoming obstacles–a delight in climbing rugged paths which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometimes slip backward, if the road were always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” -Helen Keller

In my role as a Transition Coordinator, I spend my work hours assisting persons with disabilities regain their independence in a community home after leaving institutions. While each person experiences great joy and excitement during this life transition, many also face fears of their own battles and hardships along this journey. Many are afraid to be alone and have fears about their ability to self-manage their own life. For some, this is the first time in their life that they are becoming truly independent.

It is important for each of us to know that this type of fear is not uncommon. Even people who have never spent time in an institution, or who have had many years of living alone, face these fears. It is natural to worry about failures and to stress over choices that we are unfamiliar, but we must remember; the only sure way to fail is when we do not try. You are never alone as long as you have courage, determination, and the will to create the life that you love. Others can help us accomplish our daily needs; but only you can feed your soul.

Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

What is the DON Score?

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Interim Program Director

One of the most contentious parts of the budgetary battle currently raging in the State Capitol is the Determination of Needs (DON) score. In short, this score is what determines whether someone qualifies for services through the Department of Rehabilitation’s Home Services Program. And if it is determined that a person qualifies, the DON is used towards determining the number of hours of Personal Assistant (PA) services for which they are eligible.

The minimum score to qualify for services is twenty-nine and has remained at this level for more than thirty years. However, the budget that the Governor put forward this February, proposes to raise the minimum qualifying score up to thirty-seven. This is a drastic change! There is not a transition plan in place for the more than twenty thousand Illinois residents who may lose PA services. Every person who has a DON score less than 37 would be put at risk. Many persons with disabilities utilize Personal Assistant services to remain independent, maintain jobs, and simply participate in society. And if they lose these vital services; there is a chance that they could find themselves back in a nursing home, which has proven to cost the State even more money!

We at PACE urge you to click on this link, enter your address, and contact your legislator. Simply let them know you want the DON score to remain the same! Thank you for your advocacy!

And remember, check back next Friday afternoon for a brand new blog!

The blog is back! This week we’re talking state budget.

Submitted by: Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

We at PACE would like to reintroduce you to the PACE Blog.  Once per week there will be a blog posted on Fridays on various subjects.  We encourage you to check back frequently, read our blogs and, if you’d like, leave a comment on PACE’s Facebook page.

This week’s blog topic is a very serious one.  The state of Illinois still does not have a permanent budget.  In most cases, a budget is a best guess of all your income and costs for a specific amount of time, usually a month or a year.  If you are responsible, you control your costs so that they are less than or equal to your income.

The state’s budget is determined by all politicians and the Governor.  The budget must be decided by July 1st, if it is not then the state is not able pay its bills.  Most years, there is an agreement on the budget and the state pays its bills for that year.  Unfortunately, this year the politicians cannot agree, mostly because the state’s costs are much higher than its income.  Since it’s after July 1st, this means that there is no money available for many social services.

What does this mean for PACE?  Until Illinois passes its budget, PACE will not be getting any money from the state to pay any of its bills.  PACE and its staff are working hard to stay open as long as possible.  We are also working hard to advocate the importance of what we do here at PACE to the Governor and our politicians.  We encourage you to do the same!  Please call, e-mail or write your politicians and tell them to put their differences aside and pass a budget so PACE can stay open.

If you do not know who to contact, call PACE and we will be happy to look this information up for you!

And remember, check back next Friday afternoon for a brand new blog!

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