Newsletter – November 2022

In a Different Key PBS National premiere December 13

Tune into your local PBS station December 13 for the premiere of the award-winning documentary In a Different Key about the first-ever child diagnosed with autism, now an 89-year-old man living in Forest, Mississippi. The film is based on the 2016 Pulitzer-prize finalist book of the same name written by renowned journalists and co-producers Caren Zucker and John Donvan.

Family Fun Night Is Back!

First Place–Phoenix residents and their families celebrated the third annual Family Fun Night this month! After a two-year break, everyone was excited to welcome guests to the property and into their homes, to meet staff and get to know their First Place friends and neighbors. The night was filled with fun, camp-themed activities, including making friendship bracelets, enjoying hotdogs and hamburgers from Joey’s Grill, playing ladder toss and roasting s’mores poolside. We enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces—and new ones, too!

Giving Tuesday Gives Us Hope

HUGE THANKS to everyone who donated to First Place on #GivingTuesday! Your invaluable support—along with the incredible generosity of longtime First Place champion the Make Waves Family Foundation’s “triple the ripple” challenge—is helping us continue our efforts to create a supportive, sustainable community where adults with autism and other neurodiversities live and thrive with pride, purpose and endless possibilities!

DonatePlease consider First Place AZ in your year-end giving plans.
From the two-year residential Transition Academy life skills program to rich community life experiences that include kayaking, horseback riding, indoor skydiving and the ever-popular pickleball, living at First Place empowers adults with autism and other neurodiversities to live their best life and chart their course to more independent living. Your support keeps us focused on ensuring housing, healthcare and community options are as bountiful for those we serve as they are for everyone else. Your donation helps keep us all moving forward—together! Learn more and donate.

Update on First-Ever Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis

Thanks to researchers at the First Place Global Leadership Institute, Arizona market leaders, advisors and sponsors, Greater Phoenix now has market data on residential demand of an all-too-often invisible population.

This past summer, the Institute administered the Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis to English- and Spanish-speaking adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities and their family members through detailed surveys to better understand local housing and community needs and preferences.

The Institute has collected data to enable this collaborative group to identify barriers to meeting demand while demonstrating how the public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors can work together to mitigate displacement or homelessness. The ultimate goal is to spur developers to better understand the population we serve and encourage more short-, medium- and long-term housing solutions. Distribution of analysis results is scheduled for early December. Huge thanks to sponsors Bank of America, Make Waves Foundation and Dominium for making this important work possible!

Support from Bank of America Moves the Needle

First Place recently received a $20,000 Economic Mobility Grant from Bank of America to help fund the “Greater Phoenix Home Market Analysis for Individuals with Autism and/or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.” Thanks to Bank of America’s generous support, First Place and various aligned partners are collecting stakeholder and marketplace data to identify barriers to local housing access and security, as well as determine how the public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors can respond to market demand for this growing population.

This grant is part of Bank of America’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to helping local communities advance racial equality and economic opportunity.

Transition Academy News

The First Place Transition Academy 2022 cohort is wrapping up its third semester of Learn4Independence® courses, covering content that includes receiving feedback at work, planning for a move out of First Place–Phoenix, where and with whom to live, and creating a dating profile. Registration is now open for the class of 2025 starting August 2023. With a long roster of interested applicants for only 16 openings, now is the time to apply for this two-year residential program. Learn more and apply here.

Community Life Alive and Well at First Place

Check out the many fun activities that kept First Place–Phoenix residents engaged and on the go this month. 

Pop-up science club: Residents enjoyed First Place friend Harper’s on-site “pop-up science club” where they inflated balloons with water bottles, baking soda and vinegar—and made festive cards with circuits that light up. Harper brings her clever science club to adults with disabilities to give them hands-on opportunities to learn how cool things work in our world!

Better Piggies Rescue: First Place volunteers love spending time with the pigs at Better Piggies Rescue in New River and getting to know their different and fun personalities. They can also enhance their socialization skills through lots of belly rubs and delicious snack sessions. The nonprofit was established in 2017 and focuses on pig rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and education.

Return of Mikey’s League: Residents have been enjoying the fall weather with the new flag football season at Mikey’s League. There have been a few nail-biting games—and First Place players have scored some awesome touchdowns. Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming championship!

Articles on Autism Address Aging and Workplace Issues

This month, we’re sharing two articles well worth reading. The first from Spectrum News gives details about research identifying autistic people who are particularly vulnerable to cognitive decline as they get older. The second from Psychology Today delves into why autistic people tend to face problems, including interpersonal issues or sensory overload, in the workplace—and how they can better navigate their careers.

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