News

A Spooktacular Time had by all at ILS Halloween Party!

We hope you all had a FANGtastic Halloween!  Our ILS consumers sure did!  Yesterday, we had a Halloween Party to celebrate the spooky season.  Everyone had a bewitching time playing several games, eating yummy snacks and enjoying spiced apple cider.  We also had a costume contest, and since only one consumer dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, he was the official winner!  It was a great day enjoyed by all!

ID:  Image contains four pictures.  Top left is CIL consumer Andrew in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume, who won the costume contest; bottom left is Andrew on zoom; top right is a CIL consumer playing Pictionary; bottom right is the ILS group sitting at a table, enjoying refreshments.

🌟 Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month! 🌟

This month, we’re thrilled to share an incredible success story from our Project Search program at Shands Hospital. Ammal Eltigani, our dedicated Employment Consultant Supervisor at CIL, couldn’t be prouder of the remarkable journey of our eight Project Search interns with disabilities.

As their skills trainer, Ammal has witnessed their incredible growth, unwavering determination, and the profound impact they’ve made at the hospital during their internships. These interns have shown us that disabilities are not barriers to success when provided with the right support and encouragement.

Together, these eight interns embody the spirit of determination, resilience, and continuous learning. They’ve taken on challenges, conquered obstacles, and proved that the sky’s the limit!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who’s been part of this transformative journey – from the interns themselves to their mentors, coworkers, and our dedicated team of trainers. Together, we’re making a tangible and lasting difference in their lives and shaping the culture of the hospital.

The ultimate goal of Project Search is to see these talented individuals employed at Shands Hospital by the end of the school year, following the successful completion of their rotations.

Let us introduce you to each of our remarkable interns, sharing their inspiring stories along the way.

ID: There are 8 graphics with a photo of the Project Search intern, followed by their correlating caption:

John, an intern at the EVS department, is already exceeding expectations during his first rotation.

Nolan is currently in his inaugural rotation at the EVS department, and his mentors couldn’t be prouder of his progress.

Danniell, who’s been working with the pharmacy department, has already been extended a job opportunity following her internship.

Kennia is an outstanding candidate for the respiratory department, excelling in her role as an equipment tech during her first rotation.

Logan’s distinctive skills make him a strong candidate in the food department, and his co-workers absolutely adore him.

We applaud Katherine for her unwavering dedication and hard work in the in-patient transport department during her first rotation.

Bansiben possesses exceptional communication skills and is diligently contributing to the food department at the moment.

Mathias is thriving in the linen department and has quickly mastered navigating the hospital.

Making Halloween Inclusive: Tips for Welcoming Individuals with Disabilities


Halloween is a time for spooky fun, creative costumes, and sugary treats, a holiday that brings smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. However, for some, Halloween can be a daunting experience, especially for individuals with disabilities. The Halloween season is an opportunity to make everyone feel welcome and included. In an effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in and enjoy Halloween festivities, we’ve compiled a list of tips to create a more inclusive environment.

1. Understand Non-Verbal Trick-or-Treaters

Some trick-or-treaters may be non-verbal, meaning they may not say “trick or treat!” or “thank you!” It’s important not to take this personally. Communication can be challenging for some individuals with disabilities, and they may simply be incapable of expressing themselves verbally. A smile or a nod of appreciation can be just as meaningful.

2. Welcome “Older” Trick-or-Treaters

Don’t make assumptions about the age of trick-or-treaters. Some individuals who appear older may have developmental delays, and Halloween can still be a special and enjoyable event for them. Embrace the diversity of participants without judgment.

3. Keep Costumes Optional

While costumes are a central part of Halloween, they may not be comfortable for everyone. Those with sensory processing disorders may find costumes oppressive or intolerable. Make sure to let participants know that costumes are optional, and they are welcome to join in regardless of what they are wearing.

4. Be Flexible with the “Take One” Rule

Understand that some individuals with disabilities may have developmentally delayed motor skills. This can make it difficult for them to take just one piece of candy. Instead of enforcing a strict “take one” rule, show patience and allow them to select the candies they prefer.

5. Be Patient with Candy Selection

Some participants may take several minutes to choose candy from the bowl. This may be because they have specific dietary restrictions or allergies and need to carefully select treats that they can enjoy. Give them the time and space they need to make their choices.

6. Avoid Flashing Lights and Loud Music

Decorations are a big part of Halloween, but flashing lights and loud music can be extremely disconcerting for individuals with disabilities. In severe cases, these sensory overloads can even trigger seizures. Opt for a more subdued and sensory-friendly approach to decorations to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

7. Be Kind and Patient

Above all, remember to be kind and patient during Halloween festivities. Individuals with disabilities may face various predispositions and limitations that are not immediately visible. A simple commitment to a compassionate attitude can go a long way in making sure everyone has a pleasant and memorable Halloween night.

Employment Success Story!

🎉 October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and we want to celebrate incredible success stories like Cheryl’s!

Meet Cheryl Lasaga, an incredible individual who turned challenges into triumphs! Cheryl participated in 60 hours of intensive training, gaining a fresh perspective on her career. With her Bachelor’s degree from CF, she embraced her rights and advocacy, paving the way for a successful journey. Cheryl’s positivity shone through as she shared her experiences and laughed with her Employment Trainer, Brandon Palermo. Now, she’s on the path to employment with the support of her Employment Consultant, Lauren McKittrick. Cheryl also explored new educational technologies through the FAAST Demonstration program, proving that determination knows no boundaries!

ID: Graphic has a blue border and a picture of Cheryl in the top half. The bottom half reads, “Cheryl’s success story with CILNCF is remarkable. After completing 60 hours of training, she gained a new perspective on her career in agency management and community service. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree from CF, Cheryl’s awareness of her rights has been instrumental in her career and educational decisions. She now seeks employment with Lauren McKittrick’s guidance and has also explored educational technologies through the FAAST Demonstration program.” Success Story is written in blue text between the two halves.

FREE Vaccine Clinic: October 20th

Friday, October 20th: The CIL invites you to a completely accessible, FREE vaccine clinic in Chiefland, FL!

Whether you or someone you care about requires flu or COVID-19 vaccinations, please save the date.

This clinic is fully equipped to serve individuals with disabilities, and our center is eager to assist you with any special arrangements you may need. Please connect with us for any accessibility needs, including ASL interpreters or other accommodations.

Phone: (352) 378 – 7474
VP: (352) 240 – 3079
Email: Emily Berndt, eberndt@cilncf.org

ID: Event flier includes all the information provide above regarding the Flu & Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic on October 20th. The following logos are displayed at the top of the flier from left to right: 1) Aging & Disability Vaccination Collaborative, 2) Disability Rights Florida, 3) CILNCF. There is an image of a daughter hugging her father on the flier. Next to it reads, “Stay Safe, Stay Up To Date. Protect your health and the people you love. Vaccines are safe, effective, save millions of lives and are the best defense against many infectious diseases. If you are 65+ or have a compromised immune system, you may be more vulnerable to certain diseases, so get vaccinated today. You have the power to prevent and protect. Learn more at www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/. The American Sign Language Interpreter Logo is displayed on the bottom left.

ILS Ocala Activities!

Our ILS Group has just started an in depth series on “How to live on your own.” This fall, students from MTI (Marion Technical Institute) will be joining our regular bunch of consumers in the Tuesday ILS Ocala/Zoom group. This educational adventure will guide us all the way through the end of their school year.

But here’s the best part – it’s not just educational discussions; we’ve planned some exciting breaks too! Get ready for a spooktacular Halloween costume party 🎃, hands-on cooking classes 🍳 (with the possibility of live demos!), festive Holiday crafts, and a not-to-be-missed party to top it all off! 🥳

If you’ve never joined us before, this is the PERFECT time to jump in! Whether you’re curious about our sessions or simply looking for some fun and learning, this is the perfect time to give us a try. So, mark your calendars 🗓️, spread the word, and come be a part of something special. We can’t wait to meet you!

ID: There are 2 total graphics: Graphic 1 has a photo of 3 students sitting at a table doing ILS activities. Two students are looking at the camera; one student is smiling and the other student has on a black face mask. The 3rd student is looking down at his work on the table. The photo has light blue background with the text “How to live on your own” written beneath it. Independent Living Skills is written with blue background directly underneath. A graphic has an overall darker blue background. Graphic 2 has a photo of 2 students sitting at a table doing ILS activities. Both students are looking down while writing on a sheet of white paper. The photo has sky light blue background with the text “How to live on your own” written beneath it. Independent Living Skills is written with light blue background directly underneath. A graphic has an overall sky blue background.

Employment Success Story!

In celebration of Disability Awareness month, we’re thrilled to share our success story with Delroy! Delroy is a recent graduate from CDL training school and received support from our Disability Resource Center to secure a job at a local septic company. We’ve been with Delroy every step of the way, helping him obtain the necessary certifications and endorsements. His passion for the road knows no bounds, and he’s on a mission to become a successful over-the-road truck driver and, ultimately, a business owner!

Delroy’s enthusiasm is contagious, and we’re equally excited to witness his journey unfold. Join us in celebrating his remarkable achievement and sending him the best of luck on this new adventure!

ID: A photo of Delroy and Lauren (CILNCF Employment Services Program Director) is displayed on the right half of the graphic. Employment Success is written in blue on the top right side. Underneath reads, “Delroy graduated from CDL Training school back in April of this year. He got all set up with his Medical Certificate and DOT Physical with the local technical school. He was referred to CIL and we were able to land him a job at a local septic company, and this was us at the DMV obtaining his tanker endorsement so he can transport liquids and know how to “manage the slosh.” Delroy is extremely excited to be utilizing his skills with his CDL education and licensure. Future goal is for him to own his own business as an over the road truck driver. Graphic has a purple border.

Halloween Party at CIL!

It’s officially spooky season!

This upcoming Monday (10/16) from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., we hope you’ll join us at the CIL for some Halloween excitement! The Pre-Professional Service Organization (PSO) at UF is partnering with us for this all-ages event. Stop by for crafts, games and festive fun. And of course, costumes are more than welcome!

Halloween themed flyer filled with bats, clouds, and outlines of dark branches and homes with the CIL logo in the upper left corner. A giant full moon is placed behind text that reads, “The Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida has Partnered with PSO from UF for a Halloween Party. Join us October 16th from 6:00-8:00 pm at the CIL, 222 SW 36th Ter., Gainesville, FL, 32607.” Below this, there is a purple box with the items, “Pumpkin painting, cookie decorating, crafts, and games” listed. Next to this box, there is a blue box that states, “Friends, Family, and Costumes Encouraged!”

Community Wellness Wednesdays

We are kicking off Community Wellness Wednesdays at the CIL!

Each Wednesday from 2:00 – 3:30, we welcome you to join us at the Center to create art with peers, learn from health experts, play a few rounds of educational trivia (and other interactive games and activities!), and take part in self-care practices that promote relaxation.

Please contact Ashlyn Michael with any questions by e-mail amichael@cilncf.org or call (352) 378-7474 Ext 2056. We hope to see you there! 

ID: Colorful flyer with blues, purples, and greens, that has a header stating,
“Community Wellness Wednesdays: If you are an adult with a disability, join us at the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida every Wednesday from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.”. Below this, there are individual boxes and banners that read,
“1st Wednesday of the Month: Creative Space
2nd Wednesday of the Month: Healthy Habits
3rd Wednesday of the Month: Trivia & Games
4th Wednesday of the Month: Relax and Restore”
At the bottom of the flyer, there is a purple banner with white letters stating, “Have questions? Email amichael@cilncf.org or call (352) 378-7474 Ext – 2056”

Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees.

In 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has chosen two themes to mark significant events. First, they have selected “Advancing Access and Equity” as the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and promote inclusive policies. Second, they will use the theme “Advancing Access and Equity: Then, Now and Next” to honor the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination based on disability in employment and federal programs. The Rehabilitation Act laid the foundation for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and continues to be important in advancing access and equity for underserved communities.

Advancing Access and Equity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e96nbW0ZiBY&t=1s

For more information: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam

Graphic displays a collage of arrows pointing right in a variety of colors: teal, red, yellow, grey, and blue. sprinkled amongst the arrows are photos of people with disabilities. Collectively, the arrows and photos display a triangular shape pointing right. Text to the right includes a highlighted of the information above.