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Newsletter – October 2020

Halloween Is Always Happy at First Place! 🎃

Halloween is always a hit at First Place–Phoenix! This year, residents and Transition Academy students decorated one-of-a-kind pumpkins with the help of volunteers who lead biweekly art projects at First Place–Phoenix. Then they dressed up in creative costumes to celebrate during a physically distanced Halloween bash. Pumpkin and costume contests resulted in awards for most creative, most realistic and best in show. There was even a surprise masked mystery dancer (a First Place staff member) who showed off some great moves while everyone tried to guess who it was. (Well done, Somer!) We hope you all had a safe and festive Halloween!

“A Place in the World” Report Takes Its Rightful Place in the World

First Place AZ is honored to join the Autism Housing Network and ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy in the creation and launch of A Place in the World, a groundbreaking report designed to raise the bar on a new generation of housing and community options and respond to the current housing crisis for special populations. The long-awaited report offers the universal language and guiding narrative to research, develop and achieve supportive housing solutions.

Years in the making, A Place in the World was presented at the First Place Global Leadership Institute’s fall symposium webinar this month. This seminal work would not be possible without the generous support of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, the Phoenix IDA, the Arizona Community Foundation and Bill and Alyssa Sunderland.

Fall Symposium Webinars Reflect Unwavering Interest in the Cause

Record participation in the fall First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium Webinar by pioneering leaders from across North America and around the world is a testament to the continued interest in a passionate, common goal: fueling a new generation of housing and community options for people with autism and other neurodiversities.

The packed, two-day program included the launch of A Place in the World, presentations by innovative leaders in the field, interesting polls and engaging videos.

Special thanks to our generous sponsors who made this free event possible: UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, the Phoenix IDA, Arizona Community Foundation, Sprouts, Jaburg|Wilk, Kate and Roger Weitz and Interest Ministries.

To keep the momentum going as we wrap up 2020, we’re offering a series of three free workshops focused on relevant, timely topics. Attendance is limited, so please register at your earliest convenience.

Kind It Forward

Kind It Forward Continues to Spread Kindness

The First Place Kind It Forward campaign is contributing to the community in innovative, exciting ways. We’re thrilled with the enthusiastic and creative participation of residents in volunteer and other community life activities offering ways for them to build skills and relationships.

What started as a proactive response to coexisting with and navigating COVID-19 has turned into the signature program we affectionately call Kind It Forward. We recognize there’s much we CAN’T do, so we’re focused on what we CAN do to support those in need through “virtual volunteering” projects as we continue to broaden our community of pride, purpose and endless possibilities.

Mind-Full Music Fills First Place with…Music!

We’re excited to welcome a new musical friend to First Place–Phoenix! Nathan Servilican is an ASU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music therapy and is currently completing his board-certified internship with Mind-Full Music Therapy Services of Phoenix. He’s been visiting with our residents and Transition Academy students weekly to show them how to practice “mindful music” by actively participating in the music-making process. Nathan sings with the residents while they play instruments like the guitar and drums. At the end of the session, everyone takes time to relax and meditate to the sounds of a Native American flute. Nathan is a big hit at First Place—and we’re happy to have him!

White Cane Day Helps Residents Lead the Way

For National White Cane Day on October 15, First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students learned firsthand from Lauren, one of their peers, what it’s like to be sight impaired. Lauren worked with First Place Community Life Coordinator Nina Bernardo to develop some activities representing the various struggles Lauren encounters on a daily basis, including navigating her environment and sorting medications. Afterward, everyone shared thoughtful insights about their experiences. This is just another example of our supportive community’s willingness to continue learning and leading!

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