Our Hope

In supporting these projects, we not only hope to improve and advance the lives of those living with a disability by exploring new technologies, new methods of treatment and care; but, we hope to advance knowledge and understanding to dispel the stigmas and biases that prevent so many of us from seeing each other for who we truly are – real people who just happen to have a disability.





The Laurus Foundation is committed to achieving results. We are committed to partnering with those organizations and non-profit groups that are producing results and enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. We believe that outcomes must be measurable and repeatable. Good intentions, no matter how lofty, are not enough for those who are truly in need.


These are some of the innovative projects we have completed or currently have underway that are producing results and advancing lives:


Independence One

Alpha Tests
Laurus Foundation is supporting the efforts of Don Dalton and the Independence One team in the product development of Independence One (I-One). I-One is an advanced Electronic Aid to Daily Living (EADL) system. It provides a centralized, sharable, easy to use interface able to operate virtually everything in the user’s environment. Each unit allows the user complete control by voice, touch screen, mouse, and/or switch of all the peripheral equipment typically installed in a home, dorm room, hospital, rehab facility, or workplace.

Structure of the Alpha Test Program
Alpha test participants will be required to sign an alpha test and software agreement which states, in essence, that all input provided will become the property of Independence One. It is assumed that each participant has a PC, Internet access and some means of operating a browser. User input, comments, or suggestions must be provided on at least a weekly basis. In addition, we will be actively monitoring and when needed controlling the Independence One components and LAN. We expect to be making frequent changes and improvements to the system under this test. In exchange for this, Independence One will be provided, free of charge with one year of support, at the end of the alpha testing period.

Independence One Goals and Objectives

The purpose of the alpha testing is to:

  1. Place Independence One in the living or working quarters of individuals with a severe physical disability to improve the quality of life through the use of this advanced EADL technology.
  2. Determine the efficacy of the system in a variety of unique environments.
  3. Debug the system.
  4. Capture, record and analyze the feedback from each participant and incorporate that learning into the beta and production versions of Independence One.


Laurus Foundation Goals and Objectives

  1. Provide technological assistance to those individuals with a disability who are chosen and agree to participate in the Independence One alpha testing project.
  2. Provide entrepreneurial assistance to the Independence One partnership to ensure a successful alpha and beta test phase and subsequent product launch phase.
  3. Develop longstanding, mutually beneficial relationships with strategic partners involved in the program (other non-profit and for-profit partner companies and individuals).
  4. Generate positive PR for the alpha testing program, Independence One and Laurus Foundation.


Number of Alpha Test Sites
The foundation is targeting a minimum of four and a maximum of six individuals in the initial alpha test phase.

Length of Alpha Test
The individual alpha tests will cover a period of eight weeks each.

Survey Questions for Alpha Test Participants (preliminary list)

  • How has Independence One affected your life?
  • Are you satisfied with the reliability of Independence One?
  • How can we make each unit more accessible?
  • What is your comfort level with Independence One?
  • What is causing you problems that potentially could be improved?
  • What changes do you think would make Independence One more user-friendly?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for this unit if you were to purchase it yourself?
  • With improvements what other systems/products could this replace for you?
  • Do you have any friends or acquaintances that may benefit from Independence One?


Each participant selected to participate in the alpha test program has met the following criteria:

  1. Good cognition
  2. A willingness to experiment and push the limits of the system
  3. A willingness to answer questions about the efficacy of the system and the effect on her personal life (daily routine, level of activity, general quality of life, and outlook on the future).
  4. A family member or caregiver who is willing to participate in the alpha test


In addition, each participant has agreed to fulfill the following Alpha tester obligations:

  1. Use Independence One as the primary access to items in its control.
  2. Promptly report any issues, problems, awkwardness, difficulties, and/or potential improvements to the support team (phone, email, or system page)
  3. Tolerate our continuing “On the fly” development process. The system will be changing frequently during the Alpha testing. Most changes will be minor and unannounced. Larger changes will be coordinated with you. (Candidates may certainly consult with Don Dalton, he is Alpha #1)
  4. Understand that our development process requires close internal monitoring of each I-One LAN and all connected systems. During Alpha, this will be frequent and unannounced.
  5. Candidate and sponsoring organization agree to allow Laurus Foundation, Assistive Technologies, Inc., Next Paradigm Systems, Inc. and/or their affiliates to publish the results of the alpha test and distribute the information via printed or electronic media. Actual last name, city, state and other contact information of the candidate will be withheld from publication at the candidate’s request.


Lastly, in consideration for participating in the Independence One alpha test, the candidate will at the completion of the 8 weeks:

  1. Retain possession of Independence One system and all component devices.
  2. Receive a non-transferable software license covering the system.
  3. Receive One (1) year of system support.
  4. Receive a 10% discount on all purchases from Assistive Technologies, Inc. related to Independence One made within 12 months from the date of the completion of the alpha test.




Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds

This pilot study, known as Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds, will attempt to identify the effects of a nutritional intervention program for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Its aim is to prove that a nutrient-dense, gluten-free/casein-free diet will have a positive effect on behavior, performance, and treatment of the students at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (www.orthogenicschool.uchicago.edu).

The participants will be Orthogenic School students who volunteer for the research study. They will agree to eat the foods prescribed in the nutrient-dense, GF/CF (Gluten-Free/Casein Free) diet that will be provided by the research funding partners. The approximate time of the project will be 1 year.
From this project, we will attempt to show that as with Autism, a nutrient-dense, GF/CF diet that improves digestion is an important tool in the successful treatment of people with mental illness. Through this research we hope to add to the foundational treatment that therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals utilize, a complete nutritional protocol based on this work.
Laurus Foundation partner, Sueson Vess – President of Specials Eats.com, will design and plan the implementation of the program.
The Healthy Bodies – Healthy Minds program will be launched at the O School in 2009.




A Body in Motion

NextSteps Chicago: Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

Rehabilitation and physical therapy are a vital component of the care needed after a spinal cord injury, stroke, or severe brain injury. In keeping with the mission of Laurus Foundation to advance the lives of individuals with disabilities, we are partnering with NextSteps Chicago of Willow Springs, IL to provide spinal cord injury rehabilitation and physical therapy.

NextSteps is devoted to offering spinal cord injury victims a post-hospital exercise facility that will aid them in taking their next step towards a more functional, independent, and healthy lifestyle. Not only is NextSteps committed to helping the SCI community regain a higher quality of life, but also to support the advancement of spinal cord specified scientific research that will aid in the treatment of spinal cord injury victims.

NextSteps Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Center is the first non-profit exercise facility devoted to the rehabilitation and overall wellness of Chicagoland SCI victims. NextSteps' mission is to provide the Chicagoland SCI community with affordable, dynamic, and progressive spinal cord injury rehabilitation while utilizing technologically advanced equipment and personalized functional exercise therapy and training methods.


Laurus Foundation received word that a family from, Aurora, IL was in need of assistance. We contacted the family and they told us about their son Tre’ (short for Richard III).


On March 2, 2007, Tre’ was the victim of a random drive-by shooting while he worked on his car in front of his aunt’s home in Aurora. Tre’ was shot in the neck and paralyzed.


Although Tre’s condition had stabilized, he was not receiving any rehab or physical therapy. He has no movement below the neck or shoulders; has some feeling on the inside of his body and some sensation at the feet. Tre’ is able to move his neck left and right; up and down. He is verbal and breaths with the assistance of a respiratory.


Tre’ recently had a procedure to place a pacemaker on his diaphragm to eventually enable him to breathe on his own without the respirator.


Laurus Foundation made arrangement for Tre’ and his parents to visit NextSteps for a complimentary evaluation and therapy session and a specific program was recommended by the staff:

The Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy Program (as recommended by NextSteps)

Since he is a high quadriplegic on a ventilator with a recent pacemaker operation for his diaphragm, the goals over the next three months are as follows:

  1. Increase diaphragm strength through cardiovascular exercise via exercise and bike, electric stimulation bicycle, complete range of motion and core work.
  2. Increase bone density, blood pressure, and diaphragm by slowly adapting to the vertical position in a standing frame.
  3. Reduce his dependence on the ventilator with increasing durations
  4. Once we can eliminate/substantially reduce the ventilator, we can try him in the assistant walking machine.


Laurus Foundation Goals
The foundation is committed to supporting the application of the latest techniques and technologies to promote human health, nutrition, and healing. Our goals for this rehabilitation program are as follows:

  1. Improve Tre’s overall health through rehabilitative therapy and exercise.
  2. Train Tre’ parents on effective exercises and therapies that they can do at home.
  3. Fund an initial 3-month program and find additional sources of support and funding for ongoing care and the purchase of home rehabilitation equipment.

Program Duration and Costs
The rehabilitation program described above will continue for a period of three months beginning November 11, 2008 through (approximately) February 15, 2009.

The program will begin with two (2) two-hour sessions per week at a rate of $75 per hour. Scheduling and changes to these sessions will be determined by the staff and the family.

NextSteps Chicago will bill Laurus Foundation directly each month. The cost of the entire program is not to exceed $3600.00

The Grant
As the recipient of this grant and the sponsoring organization, we simply ask that:

  1. NextSteps Chicago continue to treat, support and/or monitor Tre’ in the same manner in which NextSteps provides exceptional rehabilitation and physical therapy services to others in its care.
  2. Provide sufficient training to Tre’s parents to enable them to continue his rehab and therapy at home.
Allow Laurus Foundation to proudly list NextSteps Chicago as one of our Partners in Progress as we together continue advancing the lives of individuals with disabilities.




Caregiver Scholarship and Internship Program

Caregivers are the most important persons in the system of care for those with severe physical disabilities. Often overlooked, a reliable, trustworthy, capable caregiver provides more than just personal assistance to the disabled. They also provide a level of security and trusted companionship.

The number of individuals in our society requiring personal assistance due to ill health, chronic conditions, and disabilities is at an historic level and growing. The number of individuals in our society available and trained to provide this assistance ("caregivers") has not kept pace with the need.

Family, professional, and paraprofessional caregivers often work under difficult conditions, are underpaid, and inadequately trained on how to deliver complicated care. Caregivers often burnout and turnover is a serious problem within the industry. In addition, public and private funding sources for caregiver services can sometimes change with little notice.

Foundation Perspective
Laurus Foundation is committed to finding creative solutions for the training, support and advancement of quality family, professional, and paraprofessional caregivers. Caregivers, like those in any profession, wish to develop their skills, improve their career opportunities and strengthen their financial situation.

The foundation is convinced that caregivers can also benefit by developing additional, marketable, and transferable skills.

A Partner in Progress and good friend of Laurus Foundation was informed that his caregiver services would no longer be provided by the state. The department responsible for funding these services informed the caregiver’s employment agency only two days before the services were scheduled to be discontinued.

The foundation, through a Rapid Response Grant (RRG), is providing the funding to support a Caregiver Scholarship and Internship Program in order to continue the caregiver services and cross-train the caregiver in accounting and administrative functions. Rapid Response Grants are designed to fund short-term solutions to meet urgent needs of persons with disabilities. This fund is used for such things as short-term, but urgently needed rehabilitation or caregiver services.

Our goal is to bridge the gap in services until alternate replacement funding can be found.



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