Newsletter – September 2022

“One First Leads to the Next”

Join us October 19–21 for the 11th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium to share your next first. “One first leads to the next…” Join us October 19–21 for the 11th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium to share your next first, whether it be in housing, community development, healthcare, employment—or something completely new! Build momentum for your supportive community, vision and outcomes—and be inspired by and engage with others from the private, public and charitable sectors.

The keynote speaker is Thomas Insel, MD, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health and author of Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health. His keynote speech is titled “Healthier Outcomes: People, Place and Purpose.” Dr. Insel will also serve on a panel addressing inherent policy challenges for addressing broad, diverse populations and exploring paths forward.

Click here for more information and to register for in-person (filling up fast!) or webinar attendance.

In her latest symposium series blog, Denise Resnik, First Place AZ founder and president/CEO, offers insights about the benefits of harnessing the power of “we”—a concept first shared by those wise, endearing Muppets from Sesame Street.

Fun & Games—and So Much More!—with Law Enforcement Officers

First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students recently met and worked with officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Goodyear Police Department during an on-site training event. Participants shared information, experiences—and games, too! The three-hour training kicked off with a staff briefing with law enforcement officers, followed by introductions to residents through an icebreaker round of Jeopardy testing participants’ knowledge. Then everyone broke into groups for officer interaction role-playing, where residents witnessed a pat down, experienced firsthand what typically happens at a traffic stop or learned how to approach an officer if they may be lost or need help.

This invaluable opportunity for all underscored how we learn from each other to navigate communities responsibly, interact successfully with law enforcement officers and understand how to communicate effectively with neurodiverse individuals. Thank you, MCSO and Goodyear Police, for being such an important cornerstone of our supportive community!

First Place Rows Toward Progress with OAR Grant

A recent grant award from the Organization for Autism Research will fund an important new initiative on healthy relationships and sexuality. First Place AZ was recently awarded a Community Grant First Place AZ was recently awarded a Community Grant from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) in partnership with the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P) for our program titled “Beyond Giggle & Google: Conversations About Relationships & Sexuality.” Huge thanks to OAR for their support and trust as we further develop First Place’s 360 Health & Wellness® curriculum.

First Place’s “Year of Adventure” Shows No Sign of Slowing!

First Place–Phoenix residents are out and about in the community! Check out the fun activities that kept them engaged and on the go this month. And a special shout-out to the kind generosity of Judy Ackerman’s devoted family and friends for keeping First Place active, healthy and happy throughout 2023!

  • September’s Adventure Club outing was definitely for thrill-seekers! First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students headed to Bartlett Lake with staff from Arizona Adaptive Watersports. AAWS has turned popular watersports—wake boarding and surfing, tubing, water skiing and kayaking—into inclusive activities for individuals with disabilities. Everyone had a great time learning what new sports they can add to their activity rosters—and didn’t want to leave at the end of the day.
  • A trip to Castles N’ Coasters in Phoenix included residents and students trying their hand at mini golf! After a few rounds on the exciting and challenging courses full of fountains and world-famous landmarks, they cooled down in the arcade with some thrilling racing games.
  • Adventure Club had residents and students reaching for the sky during the recent AZ on the Rocks outing! Everyone did a great job pushing themselves to new heights—and were all smiles as they rappelled back down to earth.

Who’s Hungry…to Learn to Cook Healthy New Recipes?

Residents and Transition Academy students are sharpening their cooking skills thanks to the efforts of some dedicated First Place friends.

Made possible through ongoing support from the K2 Adventures Foundation, the K2 Kitchen, a new on-site monthly health and wellness program, helps teach participants how to cook a variety of healthy meals. So far, residents have made grilled pizzas, carne asada tacos, gazpacho, pasta primavera and Argentinian empanadas with chimichurri—delicious AND healthy!

September also kicked off #HispanicHeritageMonth—and the chance for residents to learn and enjoy some delish new recipes from some very special guest chefs. First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students kicked off September’s #HispanicHeritageMonth by cooking authentic green chicken enchiladas with First Place friend and staff members Claudia and Marcela’s mom Adela! Participants learned how to make the entire meal from scratch. Everyone enjoyed learning how to make a new, easy, authentic dish—and enjoyed eating the delicious enchiladas even more!

Take a Virtual Tour with Us

If you’re interested in learning more about the First Place–Phoenix Apartments and/or the two-year, residential First Place Transition Academy program, we’ve scheduled virtual tours throughout the end of the year. Meet the leadership team, take a virtual tour of the First Place–Phoenix community and attend a brief info session/Q&A to learn more about our programs. Register today—and see firsthand why “We’re the place for that.®

“Graying on the Spectrum” Article Offers Timely, Important Info for Families

A growing population of Gen Z autistic youth will soon hit adulthood. What does that look like for families? A growing population of Gen Z autistic youth soon hitting adulthood begs the disconcerting question: What happens when they reach old age? Read this informative and heartfelt article by Craig Outhier for nextavenue.org addressing this topic of increasing concern. You’ll also get some memorable insights from Donna Liebowitz, devoted mom to First Place–Phoenix resident Jenny.

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