ILO Insights

Civil Discourse Anyone

Maedi Tanham Carney
Founder & Executive Director, ILO

The Great Debate?

 Last week I asked if you were ready to rumble and you thought I was kidding, didn’t you? Well, after the first Presidential election debate on Tuesday night I’m here to tell you . . . they rumbled!

Our self-advocates could teach these guys a thing or two!

In our recent staff team planning meetings, even before the debate, we have been discussing ways of helping our self-advocates enhance their communication skills.

This is a valuable life skill which helps us build relationships and grow our networks of support.

Over the next two weeks, in our POD discussions, we will review a Ted Talk video titled: “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” our self-advocates will rate their conversation skills and discuss ways we can all do better. We will also review our new ILO Group Guidelines, which Sherita Mason, ILO’s Community Group Coordinator created to ensure our group meetings always stay respectful and fair.


*Civil discourse is engagement in conversation intended to enhance understanding. Wikipedia

    Current FOCUS

    Becoming Better Conversationalist

    An Important Life Skill

    ILO’s Communication Skills Training Module

    10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation
    by Celeste Headlee

    In the next 2 weeks in our POD meetings, ILO’s self-advocates will view and discuss the TedTalk videoon becoming a better conversationalist.

    They will then rate their conversation skills and talk about ways we can all do better.

    Then they will review our new ILO Group Guidelines to ensure our group meetings always stay respectful and fair.

    Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening.

    In this insightful and humorous TED Talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations.

    Summary: Most of our interactions should be engaging and inspirational – we should feel like we made a real connection and that we were perfectly understood. Most importantly, with every conversation we should expect to learn something!

    “Be interested in other people. Everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about themselves. Go out, talk to people, listen to people, and most importantly prepare to be amazed.”

    Current HIGHLIGHTS

    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

    NEW! Community Builders – Leading the Way to Independent Living

    Supporting independent living and strong connections to community are exactly what ILO does. ILO staff members, called Community Builders, mentor and coach ILO self-advocates with intellectual and developmental disabilities. ILO’s Community Builders lead activities that improve emotional and physical health and nurture and support them through all aspects of building a full, happy, and productive life. View the Video



    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!

    POD Recent Activities

    ILO Rock Stars!

    The Crossings guys meet with Officer Dan Kane from the Montgomery County Police in the making of our next video:

    “Transition to Independent Living the ILO Way.”

    Coming soon!

    Dealing with Grief
    Through Artful Expression

    To the left is an example of art created by Ella of her friend Brett shared during ILO’s How to Deal with Grief Thursday training session.

    Brett died this past January crossing a road in Bethesda. He was a friend to many of ILO’s self-advocates. It is a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing.

    ILO Self-Advocate Activities

    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 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

    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.

    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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