Our Voice Through Art, a local program providing art classes for teens and adults with disabilities, will now be offered through MRI.
Our Voice Through Art began when Jarrett Sekosky, who is on the Autism spectrum and has very little verbal communication, discovered he was able to express himself through art. Since then, Jarrett, his family and his supporters have been working hard to share this connection with other individuals with disabilities in the community. Our Voice Through Art offers multiple six-week sessions per year, with the next session starting February 7. Each session is led by Argenta-Orena art teacher Jodi England with her assistant Terri Ellis and varying guest artists. Each week, the class focuses on a different form of art ranging from drawing to sculpting and more!
Follow Our Voice Through Art on Facebook to stay connected with what we’re doing. For more information or to register for the upcoming session call MRI at 217-875-8850 or email MBilbrey@maconresources.org.
With the support of MRI’s intermittent CILA, Larry is able to live by himself in his apartment and maintain his independence.
Larry has lived in his own apartment for four years with the support of MRI’s intermittent CILA. Before living on his own, Larry lived in a strict group home where many decisions were made for him. Things like when to eat meals and when to go to bed were determined by the group home. Larry knew he was capable of making decisions and wanted to live his life the way he wanted to live it, so he reach out to MRI’s intermittent CILA program. MRI’s intermittent CILA allows Larry to be independent and live independently while still providing needed life and safety supports. He is now able to plan his days around what he wants to do. Larry enjoys exercising, cooking his own meals and going to church. Larry is very active in his community and has made many friends during his daily walks around Kroger for exercise, trips to Taco Bell and weekly church visits.
Twenty two years ago Larry made the decision to become a vegetarian. He did so as a way to become healthier and has diligently stuck with it.When Larry began to have health issues because he was not getting enough iron, MRI staff supported him in meeting with a doctor so he could learn how to add more iron into his diet, which he is now able to do. Larry uses his vegetarian cook book to plan meals for himself. During the fall and winter, his favorite meals to make are soups and vegetarian chili because they are easy to reheat he can eat it all week long. It is safe and easy for Larry to cook in his own apartment. If anything were to go wrong, Larry has MRI CILA staff just a phone call away.
Larry is not only strict with his vegetarian diet, but also with his work out routine. He takes daily walks and works out three times a week. This type of organization and precision can be seen in other aspects of Larry’s life as well. He keeps a calendar on his wall and at the end of every day he writes down exactly what he did that day. Because Larry is so structured himself, adding another layer of daily structure does not work. He does best when he has the freedom to organize his day based on what he determines to be priorities in his life, which is what MRI is able to provide.
Now that Larry has an apartment to call his own, he has new goals. He already saved money and bought a new couch. Now he is saving money to go on a trip with his friends this fall. Larry decided to put part of his monthly spending money in the bank and cut back on his trips to Taco Bell in order to save for the trip. With the help of MRI, he is in charge of his own finances, which means he has taken on the responsibility of setting money aside for food and bills.
Larry creates his own schedule and spends a lot of time in the community and with his church family. The staff at Kroger, Taco Bell and his local Subway enjoy seeing Larry about town. Many people know Larry because of his regular visits. In fact, they tend to worry if he does not show up for a few days. Larry has been able to thrive since moving into his own apartment with the support of MRI. He has discovered new things he enjoys doing, new places he had never been and he has made new friends in the community.
MRI will be holding a variety of events to celebrate National Developmental Disability Awareness Month. MRI will also be holding an internal campaign for National Spread the Word to End the Word Month.
The following activities are also scheduled for Adult Day programming at MRI’s main building as part of National Developmental Disability Awareness Month:
Spread the Word to End the Word Pledge Booth – Monday, March 14
“Celebrating Us” Dance Contest – Tuesday, March 15
“Celebrating the Journey” Recognition/Honors Program – Wednesday, March 16
MRI Day Vocational Training Annual Client Conference – Thursday, March 17
Along with structured activities throughout the month, MRI Adult Services will be holding an “I am” Campaign, where individuals receiving MRI services can utilize their creativity in written or picture form to describe who “I am”. The MRI “I am” Campaign reinforces that people should not be identified as their disabilities. We encourage you to join us in celebrating abilities and encouraging self-advocacy.
Amara, an MRI Day Vocational Training and VISIONS participant, lives in MRI’s apartment-style group home.
Before moving into MRI’s apartment-style group home near downtown Decatur, Amara had experienced multiple types of living situations. As she was growing up, Amara had a great support system that allowed her to live at home and transitioned to living independently when she reached adulthood. However, after many life complications, she moved into a large group home with 15 other individuals.
Amara didn’t cope well living with that many people. She struggles socially and began to lose some of her acquired social and daily living skills. Amara knew she needed a change. She was aware of MRI’s apartment-style group home and knew she had the skills and desire to live independently. Amara advocated for herself and requested she be put on the waitlist for a spot in the apart-style setting.
MRI owns and operates nine group homes in the Decatur area; four to eight people live in each home with full-time daily support staff. These homes are called Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA). People with intellectual disabilities build independent living skills like room care, personal care, social skills and community integration with the help of our CILA staff. Each person’s unique needs are met through family-style dining, personalized rooms and individualized services. By living in an MRI CILA home, individuals not only gain skills, but staff ensure that residents know how to use medical support.
Since moving into her own apartment in MRI’s apartment-style group home, Amara has been budgeting her money, decorating, cleaning her apartment and cooking daily meals. Through Amara’s self-advocacy she can now live on her own and also benefit from the safety and support of 24 hour support staff. Amara commutes on the public bus system and goes shopping whenever she wants. Her next goal is to get a job in the community.
Not only did Amara advocate for herself by asking to move into a more fitting living environment, but she also requested a spot in MRI’s VISIONS Mental Health Program. Amara was already in MRI’s Day Vocational Training program, but felt she would do well in a program that focused on mental health.
For more information on MRI’s Residential Services, click here. For more in the VISIONS mental health program, click here.
Danny, an MRI Day Vocational Training participant, works in MRI’s license plate production.
Danny has been working in license plate production since he graduated high school. He performs several different jobs involved in the manufacturing of license plates, such as placing stickers and packaging. However, he prefers to work on the take off line. The take off line is a physically demanding job that requires Danny to be on his feet 8-10 hours a day.
Danny also assists Sandy, the LP Packaging Foreman, with training new staff. In fact, Danny even helped train Sandy when she was first hired 15 years ago! Because of MRI’s job training and placement, Danny is able to live independently by paying for his mortgage and household bills. He has also grown in both his confidence and responsibility. He takes pride in the work he does.
“Danny has a fantastic work ethic and rarely, if ever, calls off. He is adaptable and flexible and accepts any job assignment offered to him.” -Sue, Danny’s Case Manager
Producing the license plates at MRI has given people like Danny a chance to gain independence through a job. Since 1983 MRI has produced all of the license plates for the state of Illinois, meeting state production needs and delivery schedules.
For more information about MRI’s license plate production and other manufacturing and production services MRI engages in to provide job training to adults with disabilities, click here.