Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life in Focus Final Report Summary

This project was completed in 2009. You can still use the resources to conduct your own Life in Focus project. 

Purpose of the project.
People with developmental disabilities will develop powerful voices. They will learn to use pictures and words to share their own stories.
Their stories will focus on advocacy issues from a personal standpoint. Policy makers and communities will see life through the eyes of people with disabilities.

“Life in Focus” group activities. Group members:
  • Get a camera and learn how to use it.
  • Take pictures to represent issues and experiences in their daily lives.
  • Discuss their photos and stories in a group.
  • Learn to use the photos and stories to communicate with people in their lives, policy makers, and the community.
Training groups held
  • 5 groups have been completed. (Capital People First, Resource One Petoskey, Branch, Manistee, and Benzie)
  • 5 training groups are meeting on a continuing basis. They are the groups in Baraga, Ontonagon, Manistee and Benzie Counties, plus 2 Resource One groups.
  • 13 sponsors were trained to carry out groups (those just listed, plus Lansing Transitions, JVS in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Berrien, Livingston,)
Curriculum Created
The complete training package is now available at project’s website, at:

A total of 110 people were trained
  • 72 through Life in Focus groups, who received the full training, with 5 or more photo story circle group meetings.
  • 22 in Train the Trainer sessions, who were not part of the full Life in Focus training.
  • 16 trained to use cameras, who were not part of the full Life in Focus training.
  • Average of 10 sessions per site.
Results from the project
  • Several people used the training as part of their Person Centered Planning. One person used photos to emphasize that she wanted to move into her own apartment, a goal which she achieved. Another person bought a house.
  • The Manistee-Benzie groups specifically focused advocacy efforts on accessibility of buildings, and has secured improvements at various locations in the community.
  • Some members of the Manistee-Benzie groups have shown significant increase in their communication skills. A couple people have started talking more, and others are using their ASL skills much more to communicate.
  • People bought their own cameras after using a borrowed one during the training. Others received cameras as Christmas presents. Some have turned photography into a major hobby and take many pictures.
  • The Branch County group made photo albums to give to people in their programs who were moving away.
  • Resource One members made a speech at the Capitol for the “Walk a Mile” rally and used photos when meeting with legislative staff.
Groups exceeded expectations in various ways.
  • 3 groups have expanded on their original groups by starting new groups in other places or with new participants. Since the Capital Area People First group training, the school transitions programs have added the Life in Focus training to their transition curriculum and conducted new groups each year. The Resource One people originally trained in Petoskey started new groups in Alpena and Cheboygan. And the Baraga Photography Club helped start another club in Ontonagon.
  • People in Branch, Ingham, Manistee and Benzie Counties learned to use their photos to create PowerPoint presentations for advocacy.
  • The Resource One and Branch County groups created major displays using their photos. Resource One used their displays at over 20 locations throughout northern Michigan. They made presentations to CMH boards and other agencies, and at the Peer Support Conference and Consumer Conference.
Table of results for participants.
According to reports from the local sites, the following results for participants and system change were achieved for people who went through the full Life in Focus training.

Of the 72 participants in the full training groups:
96% Successfully learned to use a camera, with supports
8% Used technology to assist with communication / mobility
10% Used other accommodations

46% Have improved services as a result of project
28% Personal choice increased
75% New friends, social or recreation activities
57% Increased Civic Participation

82% Other improvements in life (confidence, communication)

74% Are active in systems advocacy
56% Made presentations to policymakers
2 People got membership on public or private bodies

Taken all together, the project exceeded its goals.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DD Council is holding public forums

UCP Michigan is hosting public forums for the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council. The forums are to find out what people with developmental disabilities and family members believe is most important.

The Council spends roughly $1.8 million every year on grants for capacity building, systems change, and advocacy programming. The forums will help the Council decide how to spend the $9 million in its next 5-year plan.We will use a World Café style of forum. Instead of 1 person at a time speaking from a podium, people sit Café style at round tables.

The forums will be held in 6 locations around the state. They are:
Flint – February 24, 2009
Southeast Michigan – March 19, 2009
Plainwell – April 28, 2009
Midland – May 5, 2009
Gaylord – May 20, 2009
Marquette – June 11, 2009

For times and locations, or to register, go to:

Questions? Contact Glenn Ashley
Program Coordinator, "Our Hopes for the Future”
phone: 517 203-1200
Ashley @ ucpmichigan.org

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photos from Manistee-Benzie Life in Focus groups

Manistee Benzie CMH has started a group in each county. Photos from their groups are posted on the following web pages.

Manistee Page:

Benzie page:

They have also put a link to the Life in Focus website on the CMH web site, http://www.mbcmh.org/

Take a look!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Life in Focus Video

Find out why we are so excited about the Life in Focus project.

Click on the arrow at the bottom left to play the video.

The video is also available at www.youtube.com/UCPmichigan

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Watch "Medicaid: Our Neighbors, Our Communities"

Videos are also excellent advocacy tools. See this video on Medicaid:

Medicaid: Our Neighbors, Our Communities

12 min 56 sec - Nov 6, 2007
Description: Medicaid cuts hurt people, especially children, working families, and people with disabilities. You may be surprised by some of the facts presented here. Produced by the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council and United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan.

Want to see more cool videos?
Go to video.google.com/

Think you have an even cooler video?
Add it at video.google.com/videouploadform

If you're having trouble watching the video, try copying the following URL into your browser: