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Getting the message out about NICIL

STERLING – Darci Imel wants people to know more about the Northern Illinois Center for Independent Living.

Imel, an independent living consultant with the nonprofit group, stopped by to visit me recently at my office hour in Sterling to let me know what's going on with the group.

NICIL helps people with significant disabilities with a variety of issues. For example, the group helps people find work, as their ability to find employment is limited, she said.

To sum up the mission of the group, she shared a sentiment she has heard before. The goal of NICIL is to "empower people and make people with disabilities feel like they're not disabled."

Changes are under way for the group. Longtime Executive Director Kathy Fischer left in December after having the job for 15 years.

The group will be welcoming a new director March 1, Imel said.

"We're trying to do some efforts to get the NICIL name from being hidden and to get the community aware of who we are, what we do," she said.

NICIL is considering a 5K walk this fall, something the group has not done before. Imel said it also will serve to increase healthy awareness in the community.

The group is planning a Walk 'n' Roll, as well. As part of the event, people sit in a wheelchair and make their way throughout the community. The idea is for people to understand the difficulties those in wheelchairs face.

In conjunction with the Walk 'n' Roll, NICIL is considering is a wheelchair basketball tournament. The idea would be to invite other social service agencies and even have fun activities for children and families, she said.

It's another part of NICIL's plan to bring "awareness and togetherness to the community," Imel said.

She said the organization is always looking for volunteers.

NICIL serves people in Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll and Jo Daviess counties. To find out more, visit

Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.


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