General Colorado Center Information

Kicking it in Karate

Student makes a High kick into a pad held by his instructor

We are excited about our new partnership with Karate Denver’s in Littleton. Martial Arts has long been a part of our Independence Training Program (ITP), and we’ve included classes in our Summer Youth and Senior Programs as well.

Man with fists in front of his face in defensive stanceLike everything we teach and do at the Center, it really comes down to confidence, but of course there are other benefits – fitness, balance, awareness of one’s surroundings and learning to recognize where you are in relation to others and objects.

Our first class with Karate Denver started up and will meet for six Tuesdays in our gym. We appreciate Jason and Rachel coming to the Center every week to work with our students.

Just watch those kicks if you go into the gym!
Woman takes her kick at the pad held by her instructor

General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

When you think of Haylee, think of yellow

a young woman wearing sleep shades carries a large pot of boiling pasta to the strainer at the sink
Haylee made it all look easy and well-organized in the weeks and days before her graduation.

Haylee might have been a little stressed out as she approached her graduation day, but to all outward appearances, she made it all look seamless, right down to her quick change of outfits prior to giving a polished and well-researched speech after cooking all day.

Haylee first came to the Center for our summer program in 2014, just after her high school graduation. Always a bundle of fun – riding her skate board, shooting baskets, and a mean goal baller – she wasn’t crazy about carrying a white cane at first.

a young woman under sleep shades screws on the hinges to a keepsake box held by clamps
Haylee’s woodshop project was a keepsake box, which required a number of intricate cuts with with several different hand- and power saws.

“Haylee has always taken my arm when we went places together,” her sister Kaitlynd told us at the Bell Ceremony. “But the first time I came to visit her here I said ‘Take my arm,” and she said ‘No, I have my cane and I’ll just walk with you.'”

That’s when Kaitlynd understood that her younger sister was growing into her own independence.

Her sister, mother and father all came from Arizona for Haylee’s graduation, and got a notion of her growth and impact at the Center and how proud we all are of her accomplishments.

Julie and Haylee hug and smile broadly as the Freedom Bell is presentedAnd she finished with flair – an intricate keepsake box in woodshop, a great speech one day, a fabulous grad meal the next of homemade chili mac, a blue cheese & pine nut salad with raspberry vinaigrette, white chocolate chip cookies and strawberry lemonade.

If it sounds great, that’s because it was!

She’s back in Arizona working part-time for her Dad’s business and getting ready to go on to college, planning to become a teacher.

The topic of her speech, by the way, was “Synesthesia.” Well, Haylee’s color is definitely yellow – bright and cheerful like a Dutch tulip on a spring day!
a young woman rings her Freedom Bell enthusiastically

Independence Training Program

Cynthia: Kindness and Concern for Others & Independence

Woman wearing sleepshades stands beside a row of hotel pans filled with food
Cynthia with her graduation meal for 60 lined up inside the serving window. Her job is done at this point, and her selected servers are about to take over.

Cynthia finished her final weeks in the Independence Training Program (ITP) while working her new part-time job. Thus she finished things out in a slightly unusual order, cooking a delightful grad meal on a Thursday, then finishing her woodshop project before her last requirement – giving a speech to the entire Center the next week.

woman in sleep shades removes large sheet of cookies from a glowing ovenHailing from Oklahoma, she decided to stay in Colorado. Not only does she have her new job, but her own apartment as well.

So it was with a special sense of pride for her achievements that we ate her final meal, checked out the lovely bookshelf she built and heard her final speech on “How to get a job.”

She definitely set a great example to follow, but more than that, Julie Deden pointed out how much she’s given all through her program.

student stands beside her handsome 3-shelf bookshelf“You are one of the kindest, most caring people Cynthia,” Julie said at Cynthia’s bell ceremony. “You’ve mentored so many students while you’ve been here.”

So true, as student after student as well as teachers noted her kindness and her concern for her fellow students. It is a gift to all who know her.

And now she’s on her way with her Freedom Bell, apartment and a job to help her get established in her adopted state! Keep it going

Smiling woman rings her hand bell vigorously
Cynthia not only earned her Freedom Bell, but mentored her fellow students along the way with her genuine concern for others.


General Colorado Center Information

Good Hands from the Cowboy State

A woman wearing sleep shades returns to the Center with her white cane in one hand and umbrella in the other

We were delighted to host six staff members from the Wyoming Independent Living (WIL) Visually Impaired Program (VIP), which provides services for Older individuals who are Blind across Wyoming for a two-day professional training on blindness. Duncan, Wayne, Anahit and Petr gave a thorough overview of blindness and aging, as well as technology, Braille, cane travel and cooking – all of it under sleep shades.

WIL has offices across the state, and this group represented all four courners of our neighbor to the north –including Laramie, Gillette, Wheatland, Casper and Cheyenne. Every one of them is a good hand, and blind seniors in the far0-flung corners of the Cowboy State are lucky to work with any one of them.

A man with a white cane finds his way past lockers and soda machine wearing sleepshades“This was a very committed and engaged group,” said Duncan.

The Center’s Senior Services staff coordinates and presents our Training for Professionals on Blindness and training sessions can be customized for each group.

Home Management Independence Training Program

Guys in the Kitchen Week

A muscular mand with a goatee operates eh food processor.
Daniel’s Mini-meal was an all-vegan triumph. Here he mixes a tofu-based sour cream substitute.

They had both kitchens to themselves on Tuesday as Home Management staff took other students on shopping trips in advance of the NFB of Colorado convention next week. Daniel and Marcus spread out and did their work – both preparing for their mini-meals, which is the second of three major meal requirements in Home Management. They’ve been cooking for fifteen and, as with all of the required meals they must find the recipes for three dishes, calculate the portions and the shopping list, and then do the shopping – all within the allotted budget.

Daniel’s meal was served on Wednesday and it was an all-vegan triumph of a black bean and tortilla casserole featuring homemade tortilla chips, a vegan sour cream-substitute, and a peach cobbler for dessert.

Marcus went another direction. His meal served Thursday was barbecue ribs with a homemade barbecue sauce, a salad with a homemade dressing and apple cheesecake.

“I’m doing Montana proud,” said the student from the Big Sky.

And that is a true statement!

Both of them did it proud for the guys.

A trim man with dish towel over his shoulder pours a thick white mixture from a bowl to a pan
Marcus’ meal featured ribs and cheesecake. Here he’s pouring the mixture for his dessert into a pan.
General Colorado Center Information

Seniors Tune In with Assistive Listening Devices

Four Seniors with earphones listen intently, pocket-sized receivers on the table in front of them.
Members of the Tuesday Senior group listen intently to the discussion at a recent meeting. While the three ladies use the familiar over-the-ear headphones, John is wearing a single earphone.

A couple of weeks ago Student and Senior Services Specialist Wayne Marshall presented this question to our Independence Training Program (ITP) students as part of Wayne’s Wednesday Word of the Week:

“Is there a difference between listening and hearing?”

Coincidentally, both our Tuesday and Friday Senior groups have been enjoying the benefits of really hearing and listening to one another during their respective meetings. They even had a discussion about Wayne’s question themselves, adding their unique perspective. It’s all thanks to our new Tour Guide Assistive Listening System from Williams Sound.

Known as Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) or FM systems, a microphone connected to a small FM transmitter sends a low-level radio signal to one or more FM receivers with headphones plugged into them. Each receiver has its own volume control, so the user can amplify the sound to the level that works best for him or her.

The custom system we put together with local Wiliams Sound rep Laura Hanson has a highly sensitive table microphone that we place in the middle of the table. It can pick up a speaker’s voice from all around the room and thus increase the sound to the receivers. In our case we have up to ten receivers tuned into the same channel. We have two types of headphones/earphones that fit over the ears. That way, the person with the receiver can use it without or with hearing aids if they have them. We e even have two induction loops that fit around the neck and transmit sound to hearing aids equipped with a Telephone Coil.

“It’s wonderful!” has been a common report from our Seniors.

Like a number of causes of blindness in Seniors, discrete hearing loss is also a part of aging, and blind Seniors are just like anybody else when it comes to age-related hearing loss. So are their spouses, for that matter. Each meeting we have passed out 8 or 9 receivers to members of our groups.

ALDs are a standard part of accessibility for people with hearing loss in many public settings. They also can be critical for accessibility in employment. We use the same system for a staff member during our staff meetings, and one of our ITP students uses a transmitter with a lapel microphone and receiver for all of his classes an announcements.

“Our Seniors are even more rambunctious now that we are using the ALD,” observes Director of Senior Services Duncan Larsen.

Increased participation – now that’s the real return for investing in accessibility!

General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Something’s in the air

Hey, there’s something in the air today, the first day of October!

It’s coming from the kitchens here at the Center.

Here’s the menu of what students are preparing this morning … and it’s just the morning class:

  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • ravioli with chorizo sauce & garlic bread
  • Homemade pepperoni lovers pizza
  • broiled lemon prawns with mediterranean salad
  • chicken fried steak and homemade mac and cheese

Do ya think it smells great around here?