Horizons: Filling in the gap

RBC I Living in an area where the animals outnumber the people and where communities are separated not by “welcome” signs but by multiple miles presents an intriguing set of challenges for every rural resident.Now imagine facing life with a disability, or having a child with a disability like autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation or other neurological impairment. The obstacles to living a rural lifestyle as a person with disabilities increases exponentially. Since 1975, Horizons Specialized Services has been at work in the five-county region of Northwest Colorado (Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt), advocating for the developmentally disabled and those at risk of becoming developmentally disabled. Working closely with families and community organizations, Horizons expands opportunities for individuals with, or at risk of, developmental disabilities.Horizons is one of 20 community-centered boards in the State of Colorado designated by the Division for Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to provide services within a specified area. Horizons is the “single point of entry” into state-funded services for persons with developmental disabilities, with the exception of the public school system. “We serve people from birth to 3, the school serves them from 3 to 21, and then we can help them again after 21,” said Horizons therapist Natosha Clatterbaugh. “Right now we have one adult client. Most of our adult clients live in larger cities.”In Rio Blanco County, the Horizons office provides early intervention services, family support services and supported living services. “We usually have 10-20 kids from Rio Blanco County.”Early intervention services include free developmental screenings and locally based family oriented therapy to children from birth to 3 years. Early intervention has been shown to have significant impact on future services and support needs. The therapists at Horizons help parents encourage motor, cognitive and language development through play-based activities.“All of our services happen in the children’s homes. It’s very family-based. We empower parents to take care of their kids with special needs.” Horizons’ family support services offers assistance with expenses including respite care, therapy, medical expenses related to the disability, transportation costs related to care, home and vehicle modifications, and other needs. “We have a child now who was born without her right ear. Horizons funding helps the family with expenses for traveling back and forth to Denver for care,” Clatterbaugh explained. Horizons in RBC also provides Supported Living Services (SLS) for individuals already living independently with limited support or with their family. Supported living services are not intended to meet all of an individual’s needs.As a non-profit organization, Horizons relies upon the generosity of its supporters. Continuation of services is dependent on the communities served by Horizon’s satellite offices. For many years, Mazzola’s Restaurant in Steamboat Springs hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Horizons. “Kris (Arcolesse) approached our office and said they would like to do a fundraiser for Horizons down here through Ma Famiglia,” Clatterbaugh said. County residents have an opportunity to support Horizons through a silent auction and a spaghetti dinner catered by Ma Famiglia. The fundraiser will take place Sept. 8 at the Fairfield Center in Meeker from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for 13 and older, $5 for children 3-12 and free for children under 3. Tickets are available at the Horizons’ office at 685 Main St., Wendll’s, the Meeker Chamber and Mountain Valley Bank.