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Twin Cities Talk: 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 during my office hours in Sterling.

NICIL helps people with significant disabilities with a variety of issues, such as finding work. Its mission, she said, is to “empower people and make people with disabilities feel like they’re not disabled.”

Changes are under way. NICIL’s longtime Executive Director Kathy Fischer left in December after having held the job for 15 years. The agency will welcome 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 sponsoring a 5K walk this fall, something it has not done before. It also will serve to increase health awareness in the community.

The agency also is planning a Walk ’n’ Roll, in which people use wheelchairs to make their way through the community. The idea is to help people understand the difficulties faced by those using wheelchairs.

In conjunction with the Walk ’n’ Roll, NICIL is considering a wheelchair basketball tournament. Other social service agencies would be invited, and there would be 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.

NICIL, which serves people in Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll and Jo Daviess counties, always is looking for volunteers. Go to to find out more.

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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