Newsletter – December 2023

Happy Holidays from First Place–Phoenix!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the annual Holiday Tour of Doors! First Place–Phoenix residents, Transition Academy students and staff spread holiday joy as they led tours around the property, showcasing the unique creativity that made their doors so festive and fun.  Congratulations to winners for Best Theme, Most Unique, Most Festive, Most Colorful and Most Creative! Watch the fun here.

Amy Lutz Makes Her Mark at December LNCS

Parents and staff attended a compelling Lifelong Networks for Communities of Support (LNCS) session with longtime First Place champion Amy Lutz, Ph.D., who shared insights from her new book titled, Chasing the Intact Mind: How the Severely Autistic and Intellectually Disabled Were Excluded from the Debates That Affect Them Most. As a founding board member of the National Council on Severe Autism and the devoted mother of an adult son with severe autism, Amy is passionate in her pursuit of effective policies and solutions needed for the surging population of individuals, families and caregivers affected by severe forms of autism and related disorders.

LNCS (pronounced “links”) is a group of parents and family members committed to coaching and connecting families to achieve action-oriented outcomes. The goal of LNCS is to help pave the way to more independent and joyful living for individuals—and peace of mind for families.

Community Life: Learning, Laughs & Lyrics

Check out what residents were up to this month—from spares and strikes to cooking up something special for the holidays with ever-popular Chef Titina—with some science in between!

Residents and staff were “over the moon” after the latest visit from First Place–Phoenix fave Harper Hipps, local high school student and creator of Immerse Pop-Up Science Club. Harper led everyone through the fun and enlightening (literally!) construction of constellation cups and a cool moon-phase contraption, topped off by the always-popular-go-outside-and-make-something-fly experiment.

With instruments in hand and joy in their hearts, residents were laughing in harmony during their recent gathering for Mind-Full Music Therapy Services. Led by board-certified music therapist Autumn McClintock, they created a parody of the holiday classic, “Santa Baby.” Just like the original, it was a hit!

The lanes at Let It Roll Bowl were rocking when residents and staff showed up, ready with their A games. It was a big afternoon of camaraderie and competition, with plenty of whoops, wows and high-fives—because that’s how we roll at First Place.

Chef Titina never leaves anyone hungry after an engaging and delicious session in the First Place Culinary Teaching Kitchen—and this month was no exception! She and residents prepared a traditional prime rib with chimichurri—a recipe from her native Argentina—green beans with almonds and cranberries, and Russian potato salad. It was a holiday feast that left everyone feeling festive…and full!

Vote the Spectrum in Local News

Vote the Spectrum is taking off! We’re happy to report that our nonpartisan voting registration initiative is catching the attention of people living with autism and/or other intellectual/developmental disabilities, champions from the autism and disability community, state and civic leaders across the political spectrum and local press. Learn more here about how you can register to vote as a Vote the Spectrum champion.

360 Health & Wellness Workshops Back in 2024

The popular and informative First Place 360 Health & Wellness workshop series for adults with autism and other neurodiversities and their families is back! Together, participants can build their Peace of Mind Portfolios with “Supporting Independence” for parents, guardians and support providers and “Staying Healthy” for neurodiverse individuals. The series starts in January 2024 and runs through March. Register here.

Denise ASU Speech

Denise D. Resnik, First Place AZ founder & president/CEO, recently had the honor of addressing graduates of ASU’s School of Health Solutions during the convocation. First Place enjoys an ongoing collaboration with ASU to help ensure equitable access to quality healthcare for adults with autism and other neurodiversities. Denise’s message to the 2023 graduating class: “Locate your North Star to direct and ground you; allow yourself to dream, adopting a vision for impact and a happy life filled with purpose; and build your supportive community to fortify you every step of the way!”

‘Tis the Season for Tax Credits

Help make a difference with your tax dollars by donating to First Place AZ, a qualified charitable organization! Joint filers can claim up to $841 and individuals $421 for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their 2023 taxes. Please consider supporting our vision to ensure that housing and community options are as bountiful for people with autism and other neurodiversities as they are for everyone else. Click here to donate—and thank you for your support!

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