Please take a moment to read the submitted stories below.
I am so grateful for the introduction to Microboards and Cooperatives by the Managing the Art of Living Project. It has changed our family's life in just a few short months. In September of 2008, I heard about microboards and cooperatives for the first time from my PAS agent. I contacted Wendy Partridge and soon attended an informational session as well as the Tennessee Advanced Microboard Training in Murfreesboro, Tenn. There I heard what other persons with disabilities and their families were doing with employment, community living, recreation, networking, and just making their loved ones' lives of more quality and substance. My thought was I can do that too! But the Microboard gave us the motivation and determination to get this done.
Our family has always been very involved in Bryan's life and he has been living a good life in a CILA that is agency run. But sometimes that can change in a matter of a day, depending on who the House Manager is or the philosophy that is adopted by the Executive Director. I wanted more stability and sustainability for him when Gary and I are gone. And more importantly, we all wanted more control and self-direction of services as well as his home town community inclusion!
So, we started our Microboard with a PATH (Planning for Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) on March 1, 2009, Bryan's 32nd Birthday. What a wonderful experience for everyone involved. For the first time, Bryan participated and was very engaged in planning his future. We now had an individualized plan that was visual, had a timeline, was doable, and there were 13 other Board of Directors that cared for and loved Bryan who were accountable to each other to make this dream come to fruition. It was a very simple process with the help of the Illinois Association of Microboards and Cooperatives to become incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation called CuBBull, Inc. A logo was designed by a student at the local community college who heard about the corporation and wanted to be involved. The name and logo are Bryan's life â€“ He is an avid Cubs fan and loves the Bulls; the BB in the middle is Bryan Barnhart; and the logo has a TV around the BB which is how he loves to spend his time. And we were off and running!
Bryan started his own company because of the PATH and with the help of the Board of Directors — CuBBull Services Company — a vending machine business at the local golf courses is doing business. He is soon to add the fire station. I have never seen him so motivated to get up and fill these vending machines with his favorite Coke products. He has also learned through this by: he opened his own company bank account; he counts the money; he, with the aid of the staff, makes out a deposit slip; and he pays his bill at the Coke Bottling Company who delivers his supplies to him. The Board of Directors has also written a CILA application which was sent for approval and has formed a committee to search for a home. Bryan, through the PATH, desires to move back to his home town community in a home of his own like his sister and brother; to be near his family; to attend sporting events of his nephews and the home town teams; to acquire more vending machines in an area where the business community has known him all of his life; to be a part of the sports booster club; to have a dog in a home of his own; to spend time with his 84 year old grandfather; and to grow old in a community where he has family and friend support. The CuBBull, Inc (Microboard) Board of Directors will make these dreams come true because they are focused on the needs of and love this one person, Bryan Matthew Barnhart. And I can be assured that when I am gone my son will live a quality and productive life.
Susan L. Barnhart
People with disabilities are often forced to live in places that are not of their choosing and or participate in "group programs" where they are likely to lose access to individual attention and choices.
People who do not have a good network of support are seldom empowered to advocate for simple every day choices many of us take for granted.
Microboards, developed some 20 years ago, are a way to strengthen people who are vulnerable.
Microboards are, quite simply, a way to build community around an individual who is vulnerable (such as a person who has a disability, mental illness or is elderly) Through the development of a board of directors who becomes incorporated there is a group who meets regularly to work on ways to create or nurture natural supports and /or ensure quality paid supports for the focus person.
Quinn's microbard, Heroes of the Game, Inc. is made up of people from various backgrounds with amazing gifts and talents who come together to enhance and create opportunities to enrich Quinn's life.
Heroes of the Game, Inc. has been in existence for less than a year. Below are some highlights of the benefits:
- A facebook profile was created and Quinn has been able to connect with many people in a positive way
- People on the board get regular updates on Quinn's life and are part of his celebrations and find solutions to challenges. Quinn spends time with people on his microboard outside of those meetings
- People have visited our board meetings and have learned about healthy, positive and possible ways to support people who face challenges
- Quinn has had many more opportunities to try new things, including giving back to his community and share them with the board
- Quinn BELONGS to a group that believes in him and are grateful for the opportunity to know him
- A fund is being developed to prepare for Quinn's future. Members and allies of Heroes of the Game, Inc. participated in a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) and are working toward the dreams for Quinn ~that he will have the freedom to choose where he would want to live, who he would want to live with, and how he would give back to the community.