ILO Insights

Are You Ready to Rumble?

Maedi Tanham Carney
Founder & Executive Director, ILO

It’s Time to Advocate for Ourselves!

One of the ways ILO helps young adults with disabilities transition to independent living is to help them learn how to advocate for themselves.

That is not always an easy thing for some of us. It can be stressful but awareness, practice, and encouragement help.

We start small – working through challenges with roommates, coworkers, friends, and family and working towards active community participation and citizenry – like voting.

Our first step en route to this year’s Presidential election was making sure, last spring, all of our self-advocates could vote safely in the primaries. ILO joined some of our families and self-advocates who developed and facilitated the “We Vote Remote” campaign.

We’ve included a summary of the outcome of this campaign below. Moving forward we will continue providing non-partisan information about voting, the issues, and leading discussions in our PODs while promoting inclusiveness and critical thinking skills.

While all of this is going on we will continue offering engaging and interesting virtual activities for other interests based upon the feedback we get from our self-advocates and families. BINGO, Yoga, and virtual tours and safaris have turned out to be very popular.

We made it through summer in good shape keeping everyone healthy, safe, and engaged in active independent living. And, we’re shaping up to having a wonderful and full fall.

Thanks to everyone who has helped make all of this possible and for your ongoing support and encouragement.

Again . . . we are an amazing group!

    Current FOCUS

    ILO PODs Discuss Election Issues

    and We Vote Remote Shows Us How to

    Safely Vote Remote

    A Non-Partisan Advocacy Group

    The goal of We Vote Remote is to inspire and empower adults with disabilities to advocate for themselves through informed voting, in a safe environment, with whatever help they may need.

    We Are Proud to Vote Remote

    Self-Advocate Affirmations

    • We understand better than most how important it is for us to advocate for ourselves.
    • We value our families, our friends, our lives, and our independence.
    • We recognize the importance of social distancing and keeping ourselves safe right now by not being in public spaces.
    • We know our well-being depends upon the decisions our leaders make and that those decisions will impact our future quality of life, health, and happiness.  We reserve the right to help choose who will make those decisions.

    We vote remote!


    ILO’s Social Media Connections


    Facebook Group: groups/121928385139416

    Twitter: info_ilo

    Instagram: integratedlivingopportunities

    LinkedIn: company/integrated-living-opportunities

    *Gaining a Broader World View through Political Discussion

    In addition to discussions about the primaries, ILO’s self-advocates have increased their level of interest in local, national and in much broader universal issues.

     Topics of conversation since the We Vote Remote campaign began have included topics such as Black Lives Matter, the pros and cons of civil unrest, the anniversary of ADA, the importance of advocating for one’s self, and inclusiveness.

     ILO’s weekly POD training meetings have been an opportunity for ILO’s self-advocates to discuss voting, the election process, and their thoughts on issues. Below are examples of those conversations:

     5/14/2020 – We Vote Remote, Part I: SA’s discussed the We Vote Remote video and ILO training module. The focus was on the SA Affirmation statement, the Basics of Voting, and How to Vote in 4 Easy Steps. ILO’s Community Builder stressed that if any SA needs assistance please let the CB know.

     5/21/2020 – We Vote Remote, Part II: ILO’s SAs discussed why and how to have someone help you vote remotely. All SAs in this group are prepared to vote. Each SA is having their parents assist them with their ballots.

     6/9/2020 – CB administered the Post We Vote Remote Survey. All but one SA was able to. She was not able to because she did not receive her ballot in the mail. The SAs in this group that participated in the pre-survey and ILO’s training felt that training helped a lot. All SAs think voting is important and plan to vote in November 2020.

     7/21/2020 – Kanye West for president? Everyone agreed that he would not make a good president, too many strange issues going on.

     8/19/2020 – During today’s weekly check-in, the SA’s discussed Joe Biden’s decision to elect Kamla Harris as his running mate. The SA’s enjoy talking about politics. It allows a safe space for opinions, ideas, transparency, and growth within the group. 

     8/25/2020 – SA’s talked about political conventions. One SA said he thought that the Republicans put on a better one, even though he is voting Democratic.

    More to come . . .

    Current HIGHLIGHTS


    Please Invite MD Employees You Know to 

    Choose ILO 

    This Maryland campaign starts in October


    Who do you know? Social workers? State police? Administrative employees? Park employees? Highway workers? College employees? Security officers? IT pros? So many others!

    Be sure to check out our latest videos:

    The Perfect Equation – ILO.

    Designed to help motivate real estate developers in considering ILO self-advocates as potential and worthy tenants.

    The footage  provides a good understanding of the role ILO plays in ensuring  success for adults with developmental disabilities who are transitioning to independent living with the support of an ILO community.

    AND . . .

    ILO: From Fear to Confidence

    ILO’s focus on assessment and training and its ongoing support and personal connections actively builds the kind of community relationships that our residents and families need to ensure long-term stability, resilience, and success in everyday life. View the Video

    POD Recent Activities

    Weekly Sessions

    FREE Virtual Yoga Through the End of the Year

    ILO  is offering ALL self-advocates* FREE access to:

    Virtual Yoga

    Who:                Create Calm Instructors

    When:              Every Sunday through December

    What Time:    1:30-2:15 pm

    How:                 Zoom (See the Calendar for more information)

    *Participating self-advocates, or their families, must be members of the ILO Community Group and must sign a waiver before participation.

    Go to: for more info or to join the ILO Community Group.

    In the Know

    ILO Guidelines for Meeting Face-to-Face:

    • NO ONE is required to meet face-to-face if they are not comfortable doing so, or, if there is the possibility they are sick, or have been around someone who is sick.

    • ILO staff reserves the right to decline a face-to-face meeting if they don’t feel safe in doing so either for themselves, or for the self-advocate they plan to meet with.
    • If participants do not adhere to the safety standards they may be asked to leave, or ILO’s Community Builder may end the meeting.
    • ILO reserves the right to change or suspend any activity based on local, state, or national policies or changes in the overall health and safety of the community environment.
    • EVERY SELF-ADVOCATE (and/or their guardian/parent if necessary) must read, understand, and sign a NEW ILO EVENT POLICIES AND WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM. See information below. 
    • If you have any questions or concerns please contact me directly at:

    We are excited about being able to take a step forward – if only a baby step. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.

    ILO’s Initiatives to Support CDC Guidelines for the Disabled during Social Integration

    NO Contact Rule

    ILO will require any staff person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to negatively pass two (2) COVID-19 tests before contact with any ILO participant, family member, or other staff person. If a staff member has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for
    COVID-19, they must self-quarantine for 14 days.

    Social Distancing and Masks

    ILO staff will ensure that participants at any self-advocate gathering maintain social distancing of 6’ and that each person wears a mask.

    Hand Washing Hygiene

    ILO will encourage activity participants (staff, self-advocates, family, and guests) to wash their hands frequently (before, during, and after any event) and to carry hand sanitizer with them.

    Disinfecting Where Possible

    At any ILO gathering ILO staff will wipe down doorknobs, tabletops, and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and throughout the event or activity to the extent possible.

    Safety and Wellness Training

    ILO has spent the last two months training self-advocates about safety issues including: emergency preparedness, having an emergency contact list, how to ask for help, calling 911, putting together a first aid and emergency kit, and dealing with emergencies. ILO will continue to review and reinforce this training on a regular basis.

    Immediate Mediation if Symptomatic

    ILO staff will contact family and/or caregivers immediately about any self-advocate who exhibits symptoms on COVID-19 and will help that self-advocate seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

    The COVID-19 outbreak is a dynamic and unpredictable situation. ILO will adapt as needed.

    Can We Assist YOU?

    During this ‘new normal’ ILO is here to help YOUR family and SELF-ADVOCATE in every way possible.

    • Overwhelmed and don’t know where to go for assistance?
    • Lost your support (day programs, etc.), and need alternatives?
    • Running out of ideas for dealing with social isolation?

    ILO is here to help! Please reach out to me directly: Maedi Tanham Carney, ILO Executive Director at

    Please subscribe to our monthly ILO Insights newsletter to receive new editions by email.
    You may opt out at any time.

    We Need Your Help Now! Will You Help Support ILO?

    The services that we provide to our self-advocates are largely funded by fundraising events, and by donations. During this time we are not able to hold these events. Please consider a donation to help us continue providing support!

    The CARE Act permits eligible individual taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for qualified charitable contributions made during such taxable year, except for contributions to a
    non-operating private foundation or to a donor advised fund.

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