Newsletter – July 2023

First Place–Phoenix Hits 5-Year Mark

July marks First Place–Phoenix’s fifth anniversary since our front doors opened (as did our collective arms) to welcome adults with autism and other neurodiversities and their families to a whole new way of living. Not even in our wildest dreams could we have imagined how these five years would change so many lives—and what a truly supportive community could look like.

In honor of Disability Pride Month, we began a weekly Thursday tribute to those who have enriched beyond measure the last five years—and who are so passionately taking First Place to new heights in such extraordinary ways. We hope you’ll be as inspired as we are by what they have to say!

Take a walk down memory lane with us via these brief videos ranging from the 2016 groundbreaking to our 2018 opening.

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Countdown for Matt
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Save the dates for the 12th Global Leadership Institute Symposium

All aboard! Join us October 18–20, here in Phoenix or online, for the 12th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium. Together, we’re eager to fuel progress on pressing issues in housing, community development, healthcare and employment. We have a full agenda planned, including timely new insights from experts across the country ready to share challenges and successes in their own communities. Learn more and register.

First Place Friends Connect—Across 7,000 Miles!

Friendships flourish at First Place–Phoenix. In honor of International Friendship Day, we’d like to shine a light on a very special bond that developed among three residents: Ava, Jackson and Seri, a First Place Transition Academy student from Lebanon. During Seri’s two years here, the trio were constant companions. After Seri recently graduated and moved back home, they didn’t miss a beat. Their camaraderie continues over lively video chats—with a little extra planning around time zones. Happy International Friendship Day, Ava, Jackson and Seri— your smiles span the globe!

Timely Tips for Social Media and Cyberbullying

Thank you to those who joined us for the July LNCS session featuring Ilana Lowery, Arizona Regional Director of Common Sense Media. Ilana shared timely tips and strategies for safely accessing social media and addressing cyberbullying.

If you couldn’t make it, watch the recording and download the presentation, which includes several links to the detailed tips and strategies from Ilana’s presentation.

Stay tuned for details on the next LNCS event with Amy Gravino, autism sexuality advocate and relationship coach in the Center for Adult Autism Services at Rutgers University. Amy was also featured in In A Different Key, the award-winning 2021 documentary about autism.

First Place Community Life—Alive and Kicking!

A full community life calendar keeps First Place–Phoenix residents and staff on the move each month. Check out what they’re up to!

First Place–Phoenix residents and staff recently escaped the heat with an afternoon at As You Wish Pottery studio to try their hand(s) at creating objects d’art conveying everyone’s unique creativity.

Residents love a little friendly competition—especially when it means jumping in the pool on a hot summer day. The inaugural First Place–Phoenix Water Obstacle Course made quite a splash!

Residents took on the personas of their favorite characters, then jumped in and revved up for another First Place–Phoenix Mario Kart Tournament. Enthusiasts gather monthly in the Arizona Cardinals Game Room on the third floor and go head-to-head in the double-elimination competition. And while it’s just that—a competition—most of their energy went into cheering each other on!

Tag along with residents and staff on a volunteer outing to Arizona Animal Welfare League, an ever-popular First Place community partner. Their favorite AAWL “chore” is keeping the cute critters—canine and feline alike—company.

First Place–Phoenix knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July! Residents gathered around the grill for a classic cookout followed by a cornhole tournament. There was plenty of food and fun celebrating the one thing we love most around here—independence!

Pool Is Perfect Place on International Self-Care Day

Self-care is important for living an independent life. For the adults with autism and/or other neurodiversities at First Place–Phoenix, that means a calendar filled with activities that keep both the body and mind thriving. Some of our favorites are taught by the inspiring Donna Lewen, our aquatics specialist who loves working with First Place residents. In honor of International Self-Care Day, we’re sharing some of the strengthening and restorative therapeutic work they do together.

Flipping Our Wig for the Greater Good

In her latest blog, First Place AZ Founder and President/CEO Denise D. Resnik shares how son Matt’s affinity for her hair, real or fake, brings joy—and surprises.

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