Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

By Dr. Glenn Motola, PSY.D.

At Reimagine, it’s imperative that our current and future participants know that they have a safe place to turn to, no matter how they identify, and we are dedicated to welcoming and serving everyone. People with disabilities are as diverse as the general population, and this includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

As the leader of this organization, I am proud to provide a safe space for our participants and their families to feel comfortable to be themselves. My husband and I have seen firsthand how hard it can be to find a community that embraces our children as full individuals, and I always keep that top of mind as we foster an inclusive culture at Reimagine.

It can be difficult to navigate access to disability services, and at Reimagine, we know that any additional barrier to services, whether real or perceived, can discourage a potential participant from reaching out for help. We want our current and future participants, their families, and our staff to know that Reimagine supports the LGBTQIA+ community wholeheartedly. We are part of this community and if you are too, we are here and delighted to serve you.

Our mission is to relentlessly pursue possibilities throughout the lifespan of every person with disabilities, and our vision is to create a world in which all people with disabilities have equal opportunities to thrive in healthy, inclusive communities. Although not spoken of enough, there is a large, proud community of individuals who in addition to being disabled, are also fighting issues of equality and acceptance when it comes to their gender identity and sexual orientation. We honor every person and celebrate them at Reimagine.

The LGBTQIA+ community, like the disabilities community, has faced a history of misunderstanding, as well as separation from their community and limited access to building a full life. These shared histories have overlapped for some, and when both communities come together, it makes Pride Month all the more meaningful for our Reimagine family to celebrate.

Reimagine is grateful for everything that Pride and the month of June represents, not only for the impact on the LGBTQIA+ community, but for its general messages of inclusion and celebration of living life to the fullest, proudly. We know that our staff, our participants, and our Reimagine families live this pride on a daily basis, and we will always take every opportunity to celebrate this important month, and all that it stands for.

 

 

From One Father of a Child with Disabilities to Another – Let’s Chat

From One Father of a Child with Disabilities to Another – Let’s Chat

From One Father of a Child with Disabilities to Another – Let’s Chat
By Dr. Glenn Motola, Psy.D.

When a father first learns for the first time that his child may have a disability, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, grief stricken and even alone. You may be a dad who is in the process of coming to terms with the news that your child may have a disability to face for the rest of their lives. I welcome you. The fact that you are here, reading this post means that you have already taken a huge step toward thinking about and beginning to proactively plan for this new life adventure.

You may not have started to draw out the mental map that you will need for this journey, but by reading this, you have taken a first step, a critical first step. I would like to offer to have a conversation with you.

No matter what happens, please know that you are not alone. Many of us have been down a path that is similar to yours. My husband and I found out that our daughter had a disability before we adopted her at 8 months old. Some parents find out that their child has a disability before they are born, and others encounter diagnoses later in life. While every parent of a child with disabilities must determine the best route for themselves and their families, there are some challenges that we all have in common, and this is where seeking support is the most important.

I will tell you from personal and professional experience that accessing support can be difficult, and that the systems that parents of children with disabilities must move through are complicated to navigate… but not impossible.

Come sit with me. I mean it! I will help you begin to think about that map and perhaps we can establish a first step for you. Reimagine is here for YOU… not just your children. You won’t be alone. You will have parents of other children with disabilities all around you. You will have a staff of professionals that will help to support and guide you. We’re in this together.

Ready for that next first step? Give me a call at (714) 633-7400. Not a fan of the phone? No problem. You can email me at glennm@reimagineoc.org. I look forward to sitting with you or beginning an online chat with you.

Participant Spotlight: Jacob’s Reimagine Story

Participant Spotlight: Jacob’s Reimagine Story

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.

Participant Spotlight: Margaux’s Reimagine Story

Participant Spotlight: Margaux’s Reimagine Story

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.

BRAIN INJURY AWARENESS MONTH Participant Spotlight: Adrian’s Reimagine Story

BRAIN INJURY AWARENESS MONTH Participant Spotlight: Adrian’s Reimagine Story

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.

 

A Virtual Blessing

A Virtual Blessing

“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.

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