May 3, 2021 | Inspiration, Testimonial, Virtual
The Generous Heart of a Helper
For 20-year-old Jacob, participating at Reimagine means more than just finding help for himself. It means finding a place where he can give of himself to others. As a young adult with autism, Jacob has many opportunities available to him at Reimagine. His favorites are the programs and activities that offer him the chance to give his time and talents to others.
Jacob’s case manager at Regional Center introduced him to Reimagine and its Lifelong Learning Program, believing that he would benefit from the program’s opportunities to expand his horizons through education and socializing. And he’s thriving!
A lover of bike rides, brisk walks and watching movies (at home and in the theater), Jacob is proud to live on his own. He’s independent and values the friendships he’s made through Reimagine’s Lifelong Learning Program. The chance to talk to a wide range of people has brought excitement to Jacob’s life and he loves that some of his classes and programs have included the same groups of people, allowing him to build deep, meaningful friendships.
When asked about his typical week, Jacob lists a rich mix of twice weekly classes at Reimagine and Coastline Community College including health, social studies, math and theater, and shares about the weekly Zoom social hours that they have been conducting since the pandemic began, where he is able to share music recommendations. Jacob enjoys his classes and loves socializing on these weekly calls, but he especially lights up when he starts talking about the volunteer work that he has done through the community service activities that Reimagine has organized for its participants.
Jacob shares that their community service excursions have included everything from setting up tables for senior bingo nights to folding donated clothes for those in need. He specifically remembers the joy he felt working with his friends at Reimagine to sort and box food at Thomas House Family Shelter in Garden Grove, and describes that these day-long service trips often offer unique opportunities to learn new things, while also helping members of the community.
Another great insight into Jacob’s helpful personality is his deep appreciation for the opportunity to assist Brandon, one of his teachers at Reimagine, with his daily tasks. Brandon recognized some of Jacob’s capabilities and began asking Jacob for help with his work. You can feel the great deal of pride Jacob feels from helping Brandon with tasks ranging from filing papers to helping grade assignments. It means a lot that Brandon trusts him with these projects.
Jacob’s participation in Reimagine’s Lifelong Learning Program has benefitted him in many ways. The education and community service is helping him develop life skills that he can apply to professional work and independent living. Great cultures bring out the best in people, and Reimagine’s programming has created an environment where Jacob’s generous spirit has been able to grow and develop, bringing him a sense of purpose and individuality that he is proud to bring into his daily life and personal relationships.
For more information about Reimagine’s Lifelong Learning Program, click here.
Apr 19, 2021 | Inspiration, Physical Therapy, Testimonial
When Margaux, now a 21-month-old Reimagine participant, was just three months old her pediatrician first noticed the identifying qualities in her eyes that would be diagnosed as aniridia, an eye disorder characterized by a complete or partial absence of the iris, which causes severe vision impairment and light sensitivity.
When Margaux’s family was first informed about aniridia, their instinct was to be very protective of Margaux. As first-time parents, her mother and father focused on the importance of preserving the vision that Margaux does have, while learning how to handle the discomfort of people noticing the way that Margaux’s aniridia sometimes causes her eyes to shake. As they navigated the first few months after her diagnosis, they held Margaux close, often staying home to protect her eyes from the sun and to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that came with being out in the community with her.
Margaux’s parents were introduced to Reimagine and its Child Development Program through Margaux’s teacher for the visually impaired, who believed that Margaux would benefit from the program’s rich mix of therapist and peer interaction. Margaux’s parents decided to brave life outside their home and enroll Margaux in Reimagine’s twice-weekly early intervention class. The experience has been transformational for Margaux and her family. Margaux loves going to Reimagine, where her days include a fun rotation from room to room with other children in her program. Margaux is the smallest and youngest, but she’s fearless. In fact, Margaux’s teachers and therapists note that she has become very social and likes to connect with the other students by sitting or standing close to them and smiling. Margaux has embraced learning, always attempting to do everything she is asked, including art and gross motor activities.
Margaux is continually attaining new skills through her physical, speech and occupational therapies, as well as work with a mobility and orientation professional who specializes in helping children with vision impairment. Her parents have noticed major strides in Margaux’s ability to confidently navigate a space, and understanding her environment, such as where a wall ends, or how much space to leave between herself and the teacher during story time.
Margaux was initially apprehensive about getting on certain pieces of equipment during physical therapy, like the mini trampoline and the spinning chair. After a few tries and lots of encouragement, Margaux now loves playing on the trampoline so much that her grandmother purchased one for her to use at home. Similarly, she is now comfortable in the spinning chair and likes to spin other students in it.
Best of all, Margaux is forming a delightful personality, chatting sweetly in a mix Spanish and English and showing empathy for others when they are upset by coming up to them to show them gentle support. Seeing these wonderful personal qualities growing in Margaux has proven to be a true gift to her parents as they start looking ahead to their daughter’s future with pride and excitement instead of uncertainty and fear.
Serving children ages 12 to 36 months, Reimagine’s Child Development Program is designed to close the gap in readiness among children of pre-school age with vision impairment, physical disabilities, and developmental/intellectual delays and disabilities. For more information on Reimagine’s child development programs, click here.
Mar 29, 2021 | Inspiration, Testimonial, Virtual
Participant Spotlight: Adrian’s Reimagine Story
When Adrian, a 39-year-old Reimagine participant, first woke up after the violent fight that caused his brain damage his mother was the first person that he recognized. He often feels guilty and blames poor choices on his resulting disability, but he credits the intervention that followed his traumatic brain injury for bringing him closer to God and his family, and for saving him from a life of drug abuse and violence.
Adrian also credits his participation with his social workers at Reimagine for helping him live a happier and more peaceful life. He recalls that he used to constantly become enraged about everything, and after the pandemic brought him inside, he would focus his anger at his mother and brother, losing his temper with them over every little thing. Adrian knew that this behavior was damaging to himself and his family, and he is grateful for the therapy sessions that he has with his social worker, Alma, who works with him on mindfulness exercises, breathing exercises, and counting exercises to help with his anger. Adrian is very aware of the limitations that he faces following his traumatic brain injury, sharing that the exercise of counting backwards from 20 is now much harder for him, because his thoughts come to him so much more slowly now, but he is grateful that he has been able to continue his weekly sessions with Alma over the phone.
Adrian is also open about his initial reluctance to try the word puzzles and brain games that Reimagine provides to help exercise his brain, but now he says that with the encouragement of his Reimagine team he has started to not only use the exercises, but to look forward to completing them. Adrian even shared that one of the more difficult word search exercises took him almost two weeks to complete. He was so proud of his efforts to push through the challenge, that he put the word search up on his fridge once it was completely filled out.
“The therapy that I do with Reimagine really works,” Adrian says. “Reimagine has great counselors and social workers that help with our struggles. And every day is a struggle. But I am happy to be alive for the struggle. I am happy.”
For more information about Reimagine’s programs, click here.
Mar 25, 2021 | Inspiration, Testimonial
“Thumbs up! I love all of the virtual classes. I think they are wonderful.” – Sharon, participates in Bingo, Jeopardy, sing alongs, scrabble, seated exercise/meditation & concerts
One year into the pandemic, Reimagine’s virtual campus is going strong—Zumba, art, cooking, exercise, music, meditation—and more! Reimagine was one of the first nonprofits serving the disabilities community in Orange County to pivot to virtual programming when stay-at-home orders were first issued in March 2020. For many participants—the virtual programming has been a blessing during long periods of isolation. And clearly Bingo is a favorite!
Here’s what some of our participants are saying about their virtual classes:
“I like class because I like seeing people. I like seeing you! I look forward to it because it gives me something to do.” – Chris, whose favorite classes are Social Services & exercise
“I like all of the virtual classes, especially Bingo and cooking. The classes are good for everyone!” – Oscar
“I give a thumbs up to all of the virtual classes, and I especially love playing Bingo.” – Joshua
“I love all of the classes, especially Bingo. I love seeing friends and faces.” – Jamie, participates in Jeopardy, Exercise, Animals & Music classes
“ I like attending the social services classes. After my stroke and specially with COVID I’ve had some anger issues. This class is helping me deal with my anger.” – Ruben
Learn more about all the classes offered via Reimagine’s virtual campus.
Feb 6, 2021 | COVID-19, Vaccine
The COVID-19 Virus and the Vaccine Explained
As much as many of us hoped the start of a new year would bring some relief from the pandemic, we find ourselves still in its center. As a service provider to people with disabilities – many of whom are at high-risk of complications from COVID-19 – Reimagine has adapted to safely continue services and programs, as many of our participants have shifted to online activities and learning.
It can be difficult for many of our participants to understand the lingering threat of the coronavirus. They may not grasp the concept of a vaccine and how it will work; or that it will still be necessary to wear a mask after getting the vaccine. To help people with cognitive disabilities better understand COVID-19 and the vaccine, Reimagine offers the following simplified questions and answers.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a short way of saying Coronavirus Disease 2019. Its nickname is the coronavirus. It is a virus that is very easy to get and it can make you very sick. So, it is important to protect yourself by wearing masks when you leave your homes, washing your hands regularly and keeping six feet away from people who don’t live with you.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine and how does it work?
The COVID-19 vaccine is a medicine that helps protect you from getting COVID-19. It requires two shots in the arm. After you get your first shot, you will need a second shot 3 to 4 weeks later. After your second shot, it will take a few weeks before you build up protection from the virus. Your arm may be sore after getting the shot, or you may feel slightly tired or even have a fever. This is all normal!
Do I have to keep wearing a mask after I have had the COVID-19 vaccine?
YES, even after you’ve had both of your shots, it is important to keep wearing a mask when you are out in public or around people who don’t live in your home. It will take many months before everyone who wants the vaccine can get it, so we need to make sure we all stay protected while we wait for everyone to have their turn!
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and availability in Orange County, visit the OC Health Care Agency website or talk to your healthcare provider.
Take care and stay safe!