People and Places - December 2014

 

Adapted soccer champs crowned

A longtime powerhouse and a re-emerging program were the winners of the Minnesota State High School League’s adapted soccer titles this fall. The state tournaments were held in November at Stillwater Area High School.

This is the 22nd year for the league’s program for athletes with disabilities. Competition is conducted in two divisions, one for athletes with cognitive disabilities known as CI and the other for athletes with physical disabilities, or PI. Teams are co-ed.

The Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka Robins team won its seventh consecutive title in the PI Division, topping Anoka-Hennepin 2-1. The Robins beat Dakota United and Minneapolis South to reach the championship game. It is the Robins’ ninth overall title.

Anoka-Hennepin Mustangs defeated St. Paul Highland Park and South Suburban to get to the title game.

Third place honors went to South Suburban. The Flyers defeated the Minneapolis South Tigers, 11-5.

Dakota United won the consolation crown, defeating Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 7-3.

St. Paul Humboldt was the eighth team in the tournament.

There was a new champion in the CI Division as the South Washington County Thunderbolts topped Dakota United, 3-2 in overtime for the state title. It was the Thunderbolts’ first soccer title since 1998.

The Blazing Cats of Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville came into the tournament as defending champions but finished fourth.

The Thunderbolts beat North Suburban and Park Center to reach the title game. The Hawks of Dakota

United defeated Anoka-Hennepin and Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville on their way to the title game. Third place honors went to the Park Center Pirates, with a 5-4 win over Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville.

Anoka-Hennepin defeated North Suburban, 5-4, for the consolation championship. Minneapolis Roosevelt and St. Cloud Area were the other teams in the tournament.

 

 

 

 

AXIS moves offices to Minneapolis

AXIS Healthcare was on the move in November, from its longtime home in St. Paul to the Park Avenue Medical Services Building, 710 E. 24th St., #400, Minneapolis. The new quarters are in a wing of the Phillips Eye Institute on the Allina campus. AXIS’ new main phone number is 612-262-8800. New fax number is 612-262-8801, and the after-hours nurse line is 612-262-8802.

All AXIS staff members were assigned new direct phone numbers. Members and clients received their care coordinators and case managers new numbers through a mailing. Clients with questions should call the main number.

After settling into their new offices, AXIS plans to host an open house in the future. No date has been set.

“Our goal is to minimize any disruption of service during this transition,” said Randall Bachman, AXIS Director. “While we have been busy with all the details of the merger and move, we continue to provide our care coordination and case management services as seamlessly as possible.”

AXIS Healthcare, LLC, was created in the late 1990s by Courage Center and Sister Kenny Institute of Allina Health. AXIS provides quality health care coordination and waiver case management services to adults with disabilities. Many Access Press readers will remember that AXIS provided care coordination and case management for years under the Minnesota Disabilities Healthcare Option (MnDHO) until that program was discontinued at the end of 2010. Now AXIS provides Special Needs Basic Care (SNBC) care coordination through contracts with UCare, Medica and the Metropolitan Health Plan of Hennepin County. AXIS also provides case management for Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals (CADI) and Brain Injury (BI) waivers for people with disabilities in Hennepin and Ramsey

In January 2013 Courage Center merged with Sister Kenny Institute, and is now Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. As part of that transition, AXIS continues to be part of Allina Health. AXIS staff are now Allina employees. AXIS will retain its LLC status and will continue to have an advisory board that will give input on quality initiatives and strategic direction.

AXIS enrollment has grown significantly over the last two years. More than 4,000 adults receive health care coordination, waiver case management, or both from AXIS.

“Allina Health, and other large health care systems, are broadening their scope beyond acute care provided in hospitals and clinics. A growing emphasis is on health promotion, and managing chronic conditions. Accordingly, services provided by AXIS are aligned with that direction. Although we are now employees of Allina Health, our mission has not changed and we plan to continue to be an asset to the entire community,” Bachman said. “In fact, we pride ourselves on establishing and maintaining a long-term relationship with our members and clients, regardless of who they choose for their health care providers. We also pride ourselves in working hard to continuously improve the work we do so that people with disabilities maintain their health, avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions, and have the supports they need and want to live in the community.”

 

 

 

Partnerships prove profitable for nonprofits

This isn’t the season when most people seek shade but 11 disability community nonprofits are already working on plans for 2015 Made in the Shade Walk Run and Roll. This unique collaboration raised more than $115,000 at this year’s event and hopes to build on that success in 2015.

While it is unusual for such a large number of like-minded organizations to unite for a fundraiser rather than doing their own events, Made in the Shade has a long history. It began 22 years ago with six groups. It is held on the third Saturday in September. The event benefits everyone through sharing costs including the Minneapolis Park Board permit, t-shirts, signage, furnishings and entertainment.

There groups also work together to seek in-kind donations of food and beverages. More than just a walk,

Made in the Shade is a celebration of partnerships, friendships and a sense of community building to make a difference for the many people served by these organizations. Each organization raises and then keeps its own pledge and sponsorship funds.

The eleven agencies participating in Made in the Shade are: Achieve Services, Inc., Ally People Solutions, CHOICE, Inc., Community Involvement Programs, EGH, Highland Friendship Club, Homeward Bound, Partnership Resources, Inc., The Phoenix Residence, Inc., TSE, Inc., and Wingspan Life Resources. Groups use funds raised for supports expenses including music therapy sessions, art classes, group home remodeling, new accessible vehicles, job training and more.

The 2014 event was at Lake Calhoun in September. The route along Lake Calhoun was packed with clients and their supporters, with a pre-walk warm-up led by The Firm. Walkers/rollers/runners were cheered on by the North Star Roller Girls and a bluegrass band, The Moss Piglets. Participants enjoyed a performance by a “Glee Club,” a collaboration of Partnership Resources, Inc., Wingspan Life Resources and Choice, Inc., directed by MacPhail Center for Music.

Also new this year was an art design contest for clients from partnering agencies. Winners received gift cards. Eric Sherarts from Community Involvement Programs won first place. His design will be used to promote the 2015 event. A group of clients from CHOICE, Inc. – David, Ray, Scott, Johanna and Colleen – won second place. Jenny Beavers from Partnership Resources, Inc. placed third.

Plans are already underway to make the 2015 Made in the Shade even bigger and better, with monthly meetings of agency representatives. Any other group serving people with disabilities, with an interest in joining the Made in the Shade Walk Run and Roll fundraiser should call Dan Reed, Director of Marketing and Development at Partnership Resources, Inc. at 952-925-1404.

 

 

 

Two entrepreneurs are award winners

Photo courtesy of Courage KennyTwo people with disabilities and a knack for business are the recipients of the 2014 Judd Jacobson Memorial Award. The award honors exceptional entrepreneurs who also happen to have a disability. Joshua Straub and Jenn Schmidt were each given a $5,000 cash award at a reception November 13 in Golden Valley. The event was hosted by Courage Kenny Foundation in Golden Valley.

Straub, 24, of Plymouth, was born with cerebral palsy. An avid gamer, Straub in August 2012 founded Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System (DAGERS). The company’s mission is to ensure game accessibility for people with disabilities. DAGERS was developed due to the frustrating experiences Straub had with non-accessible games.

DAGERS began as a service to provide information to determine if a game was accessible to a player’s particular needs prior to purchasing it. It now is poised to be the premier journalistic outlet for game accessibility on the Internet. It publishes game reviews and articles addressing larger issues related to game accessibility.

Straub will use his award to recreate his website and begin the second phase of his business. He hopes to contract with video game manufacturers to test products for accessibility. That would give DAGERS a key role in game development.

Schmidt, 29, of Minneapolis, wears hearing aids in both ears. She was three years old when diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Schmidt has always followed her dreams, working as a makeup artist from the time that she could hold a brush. Schmidt attended college but during a Mary Kay party, her passion for makeup was rekindled. She began selling Mary Kay cosmetics. In 2011 she graduated with a cosmetology degree from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis. During her time as a student she auditioned for, and was accepted into, the Aveda Freelance Advisors Program and began traveling to various salons as a professional makeup artist to assist with events. For the past two years she has devoted all of her extra time to her company All by Jenn. Schmidt will use her award to do advertising and marketing to bring in more clients. She’d also like to pay for additional training and start raising funds for a company vehicle.

The late Jacobson was an Owatonna business leader and entrepreneur who became a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident. The cash award is administered by Courage Kenny Foundation, with funds made possible by Daniel J. Gainey, a lifelong friend of Jacobson’s.

 

 

 

Students foster disability-friendly campus at University of Northwestern

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul is promoting disability awareness through the student-led group, Club SODA (Students Of Disability Appreciation). Club SODA members were pleased to become an official university club this fall semester.

Club SODA was initiated by two Northwestern students last spring. Its purpose on campus is to promote disability appreciation through events, speakers and activities. This year members of Club SODA hosted a panel of students with disabilities for faculty in order to spread awareness and knowledge about what it’s like to have a disability in the classroom.

In addition to student-led activities on campus, Disability Office for Support Services at Northwestern also celebrated disability awareness in a series of chapel services that reached the whole student body. The theme this year was “Be the Bridge,” how everyone has a part in the community and a role to play. The keynote speaker was Jenny Hill, author of Walking with Tension, the story of her journey with cerebral palsy.

 

 

 

Recycle holiday lights, help provide jobs

Photo courtesy of ProactMake the Holidays Merry and help ProAct at the same time. ProAct, a nonprofit serving people with disabilities, is collecting Christmas lights, electric and phone cords from 35 locations through the end of January 2015.

The lights and cords are collected and processed for the Recycling Association of Minnesota and its “Recycle Your Holidays” program. ProAct and similar nonprofits will contribute to a statewide light and cord recycling goal of 100,000 pounds of material this season. These will be individually disassembled by people with disabilities at ProAct’s Eagan and Red Wing facilities, said ProAct Production Coordinator Jennifer Cavalier.

This seasonal program is in addition to ProAct’s year-round recycling efforts, which include beverage containers, plastic bags and plastic packing material. The program cannot accept cord adapters, battery packs, plastic rope lights or CFL lights.

“The program is a win-win-win,” said Maggie Mattacola, executive director of operations for the Recycling Association of Minnesota. Customers of local businesses have a free recycling option, valuable recyclables are kept out of the landfill and meaningful employment opportunities are provided for individuals with disabilities. The program is in its fifth year and is offered in partnership with WCCO Television, Ace Hardware and other partners. Drop-off locations serviced by ProAct are offered in Dakota, Goodhue and Wabasha counties.

ProAct is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis. Its mission is to serve individuals experiencing barriers to employment and self-sufficiency due to intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, traumatic brain injuries and other challenges.

To find a drop-off site, go here.

 

 

 

 

UCare announces community, research grants

UCare has announced that its UCare Foundation (formerly the UCare Fund) has distributed 27 community grants totaling $1,013,100 and three research grants totaling $200,619 to Minnesota organizations working to improve the health of people of all ages, cultures, and abilities in 2014.

UCare Foundation grants were awarded to organizations meeting four health improvement-related grant criteria for 2014. Those are preventative health care, chronic disease management, promoting healthy lifestyles and programs for people with disabilities.

The UCare Foundation is a community-directed initiative of UCare, the fourth-largest health plan in Minnesota. UCare focuses its grant-making on programs and initiatives that improve the health of underserved populations across Minnesota with innovative services, education, community outreach and research.

“UCare’s mission to improve the health of our members through innovative services and partnerships across communities is well served by UCare Foundation grants which focus on communities with the greatest needs and health care disparities,” said Ghita Worcester, UCare Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing. “We are honored to award UCare Foundation grants to nonprofit, public health, and community-based groups working creatively and diligently to improve the health of people across our increasingly diverse state.”

The lone research grant with a focus on disability is to the Center for Victims of Torture, St. Paul. The program was provided with funding of a four-year randomized control trial. This will determine if the embedding of the center’s case management and mental health service model onsite at a primary care clinic will lead to better treatment outcomes and cost effectiveness when compared to treatment as usual at the clinic for incoming refugees with a diagnosis of serious and persistent mental illness.

Following are the community grants that focus on people with disabilities and elders:

•Highland Friendship Club, St. Paul – Funding to help the Highland Friendship Club offer health, fitness, social, and recreational opportunities to adults with disabilities, many of whom struggle with obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.

Keystone Community Services, St. Paul – support for the Senior Exercise for Health, Longevity, and Independence Project that will improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based programs that provide physical activity for seniors and frail elderly to help them adopt healthy behaviors, improve their health status, and manage chronic conditions better.

Mental Health Association of Minnesota, St. Paul – Funding for the Mental Health and Wellness Outreach Program, which provides education and tools to help individuals living with mental illnesses improve their overall health and well-being.

Miller-Dwan Foundation, Duluth – Support to help create a state-of-the-art healing environment, exercise space, and programming that encourages physical activity among adult psychiatric patients at Essentia Health in Duluth.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter, Minneapolis – Support to expand “Stay Active, Stay Healthy with MS” programming that provides opportunities for persons with multiple sclerosis to enhance their physical health through partnerships with locally based exercise facilities, and to extend chapter services to underserved and/or rural communities to promote healthy living.

Neighborhood HealthSource, Minneapolis – Funding to improve the system’s colorectal cancer screening rates for patients age 50 and older, and/or at higher risk, through an in-clinic screening project that provides patients with high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing kits to take home, use, and return by mail. It is supported with quality improvement measures and follow-up processes.

Neighborhood Involvement Program, Inc., Minneapolis– Funding for a pilot program offering foot care as part of preventive health care efforts for underserved seniors and individuals with chronic illness, primarily in disadvantaged neighborhoods in North and South Minneapolis, where access to care is limited. The program is an outgrowth of the program’s Seniors Program, which helps seniors remain healthy, independent, and in their homes.

North End-South Como Block Nurse Program, St. Paul – Support for the “A Year of Senior Fitness” pilot program focused on helping seniors get stronger, relieve stress, lessen depression, manage symptoms of illness and pain, and improve their overall sense of well-being.

Partnership Resources, Inc., St. Louis Park – Funding to acquire new adaptive and barrier-free equipment for seniors and adults with disabilities for use by the organization’s wellness enhancement programs at three Hennepin County locations.

•St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development, Plymouth – Support for the Autism Day Treatment Somali community site, which uses a culturally-attuned day treatment model to help improve the health of, and reduce health disparities for, Minneapolis Somali children living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, and to help reduce cultural barriers to accessing early identification and intervention services.