LiveUp Philly is just 2 days away!!

Today’s post comes from Rachael, one of the awesome directors at LiveUp Philly!

As I put together my enormous Sams Club grocery list, sort out the Holy Family University housing grid and repeatedly chant myself reminders to not forget the Phillies tickets sitting neatly atop my dresser, I know that LiveUp Philly is quickly approaching. Through my years of directing LiveUp Philly, it is an honor to watch the program and its members evolve. There are always blasts from the pasts to look forward to, like going to see Comedy Sportz’s Improv Comedy Show, annual favorites, such as the epic dinner/dance, and new excursions to be discovered, like our trip to the Aquarium this year.

The weekend is jam-packed with other empowering activities, such as painting, cooking, and daily wellness. We will learn from Penn Dental students more about dental hygiene and taking care of ourselves, we will learn from Walnut Street Theater actors how to sing and dance (or maybe we will teach them!!), and we will get lost in the Philly food scene at Reading Terminal Market. The weekend is always filled with laughter, support, and endless karaoke (who else is glad we have let go of Frozen’s feature song, “Let it Go”?)

As I gear up for the weekend, I should be worried that everything will go smoothly, that everyone remembered to pack their sheets, that I will buy the perfect amount of bananas for morning breakfast that meets the daily demand, but after years of directing this program, none of these fears take control of my thoughts. And here’s why: LiveUp is community built on friendship, creativity and joy. If we run out of bananas, I guarantee you that someone will come up with an elaborate pitch for why strawberries are equally as awesome as bananas and everyone will be clamoring for more strawberries. If someone forgets sheets, I promise you that someone will offer their own sheets to that person and make a makeshift set of sheets for themselves out of their towel and LiveUp sweatshirts. If a program is not running as smoothly as it could, I know our group will come together and collaborate to ensure we are including everyone and having nothing short of a terrific experience.

As a director, I am grateful to the partners in the Philadelphia, both new and old, who continually provide us with fantastic programming, to the staff, whose generosity and leadership leave me in awe year after year, and to the participants, whose energy levels and genuine celebration of life teach us in a short weekend how we should live throughout the rest of the year. I cannot wait for this weekend!

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Briana helps us get pumped for LiveUp! 

This post comes from Briana, one of the awesome participants at LiveUp Philly!

I am excited to go to LiveUp in Philadelphia because I can see old friends and meet new friends.

I can’t wait to see Rachel and Kerri who have been the directors and to welcome Kelsey to being a director.

I hope we dance and sing karaoke. I know I will have a lot of fun.

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LiveUp celebrates OT Month with Laura!

This post comes from Laura Karp, one of the program directors at LiveUp Boston!

Hi! My name is Laura and I’ve been involved in LiveUp since the inaugural program in DC. I have been a mentor in Philadelphia and Boston, and directed LiveUp Boston for the last two years. As most of you know, LiveUp is volunteer-run, so in addition to planning, negotiating, and mentoring almost all of our staff have real jobs. So what’s mine?

In my (biased) opinion, I have the best job in the world. I am an Occupational Therapist (OT), and I work in a K-8 school for kids with disabilities. I have the privilege of pulling kids out of class or pushing into classrooms to target their motor, sensory, and cognitive needs through individualized interventions. I’ve known I wanted to work in this field since high school, and volunteering with programs such as Best Buddies and LiveUp solidified that passion. I believe that by teaching and practicing functional life skills such as healthy cooking, social skills, and exploring new places together is an integral part of inclusion and overall wellness. While the kids I work with have emerging skills/readiness in these areas, seeing the amazing talents and jobs that LiveUp roommates have is inspiring and motivates me every day. Happy OT Month!

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Happy National Siblings Day from LiveUp!

This post comes from Kelsey Quinn, one of the program directors at LiveUp Philly!

 

In honor of National Siblings Day, I wanted to give a shout out to my brother, Colin Quinn, who introduced me first to Camp PALS and then to the LiveUp family.

 

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I can remember the first time he came home from his Memorial Day weekend spent with LiveUp, me sitting on the couch while he relayed all the exciting adventures of the weekend! From a Philly’s baseball game, to the nightly karaoke sessions and of course, the dinner dance. Needless to say, I was pretty envious of the fun-filled weekend he had in comparison to mine! I knew from that moment on that I just had to experience LiveUp for myself, with him, the following Memorial Day weekend.

 

Until then, over the course of the following year I had the pleasure of hanging with him and his buddy from the LiveUp weekend, Matt Funicello. Seeing the two of them together truly exemplified to me what LiveUp is all about: forging friendships that last far beyond the holiday weekend.
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And then Memorial Day 2015 rolled around – it was time to head to Philly! The weekend was a blast and far exceeded any expectations I had. Getting to share those experiences with my brother made the weekend even more special.

 

When the weekend came to an end, I was sad how fast the time had flown. Thankfully I had my sibling to relive the memories with through the countless stories we now share!
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LiveUp in the Kitchen!

 

Hi everyone! My name is Kerri and I am one of the directors for LiveUp Philadelphia! March 20th marked the first day of spring and I’m so excited to celebrate the warmer weather with making some of my favorite smoothie recipes. Smoothies are my FAVORITE thing to cook at LiveUp. They are a healthy and refreshing way to cool off and so easy anyone can blend them up!

 

Kerri Berry Smoothies

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-size or large, ripe banana
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • 4 fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 or 3 ice cubes if desired

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve right away

Peanut butter & Jelly Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana*
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened) (or milk of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I like creamy natural-style) + more for topping if desired.
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries**
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve right away

 

 

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World Down Syndrome Day 2017!

In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month,  we want to celebrate our incredible participants! Every year, we have the opportunity to meet new participants and returning friends. Since March is also Women’s History Month, we’ve decided to celebrate Girl Power by featuring just a few of the absolutely amazing ladies we know:

 

  • Shelley Lantz was recognized for her work in the community as “Self Advocate of the Year” with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond! Shelley says, “I am capable because I volunteer and participate in the community.”  Read more here!

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  • Kelly was recently honored by the Indianapolis ROSE Awards. You can see her between 2:40-3:00 of this video!

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We’re so proud of all of our participants and volunteers! Thanks for all the awesome things you do!

 

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At the 2nd annual beer pong fundraiser!

This post comes from Allie Weiss, one of the program directors at LiveUp NYC!LiveUpFundraiser

On Saturday March 4th, we held our 2nd annual beer pong tournament fundraiser at Brother Jimmy’s in New York City. This event was held in order to raise money for scholarships. We had the support of over two hundred people including members of the LiveUp family as well as friends and family who wanted to support our organization! We received amazing donations of raffle prizes including a variety of workout classes, passes to Disney World, tickets to various comedy shows and many other great items! We raised over $6,000!

In attendance was Meghan Latini, who says her favorite part about LiveUp is meeting new people and making new friends. Cristin Durkin said “It was great seeing everybody I know from LiveUp at the fundraiser” and that she loves LiveUp because all of the fun activities she gets to do over the weekend. Katie Moore said “I really liked going to the fundraiser” and her favorite things about LiveUp programs are the dance and going to the water park.

Sara Norelli attended and says, “LiveUp is such a wonderful program because it brings people of all ages and backgrounds together for one purpose – to enjoy and celebrate life to the fullest. It’s been such an amazing experience to build friendships and make memories with my LiveUp family!” Brett Cohen, was present as well as says he loves LiveUp because it “affords me an opporLiveUpFundraiser2tunity to connect with people I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to, and allows me to celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of each person”.

A big thank you to everybody who attended our event, donated to our organization and contributed to the planning and the fun of another successful event! Thank you to everybody who supports LiveUp year after year by attending our programs and volunteering!

Why do you love LiveUp? Share your favorite photo on Facebook or Instagram and let us know why you love LiveUp! Don’t forget to tag us at @LiveUpPrograms!

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A message from our friends at Best Buddies!

Pbestbuddies_picturerogram Alert: Best Buddies NYC!

This post comes from Alyssa, one of the program managers at Best Buddies NYC!

Who doesn’t want more friends?! Best Buddies is an organization that helps form one-to-one friendships for adults with and without disabilities. When you become a best buddy, you’ll have another friend to laugh with, go to the movies with, or anything you choose! If you live in New York City and are 18 or older, you can apply to become a Best Buddy in NYC!

What is Best Buddies? (https://bestbuddies.org)

Best Buddies is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves people with and without Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD. Best Buddies was founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver and has programs in 50 countries & all 50 United States. Best Buddies offers seven programs – Citizens, e-Buddies, Colleges, High Schools, Middle Schools, Jobs, and Ambassadors.

What is the Citizens Program? 

The Best Buddies New York Citizens Program provides opportunities for one-to-one friendships for adults (18+) with and without IDD. Buddy Pairs commit to one year of friendship, get together 2 times each month, and share communication (email, text, phone conversation, ect.) each week.

Does it cost anything?

There is no cost to join! Once matched, participants are responsible for their own costs when on an outing.

How are matches made?

Matches are based on same gender, location, common interests, and similar age.

Who is in the match?

Each friendship consists of a:

  1. Citizen Buddy (volunteer with no disability diagnosis)
  2. Buddy (participant with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability)
  3. A Sponsor is also involved (a person with no disability diagnosis who knows the Buddy very well; often a parent, guardian, or case manager)

What is the application process?

  1. Screening Interviews- Before meeting potential participants, a Program Manager will conduct a Screening Interview by phone with the volunteer or Sponsor to determine if a person is appropriate for the Citizens Program.
  2. Paperwork- Online Membership Application & free Background Check
  3. Home Visit- The Program Manager will come to the potential participant’s home for an in-person interview. This is scheduled at your convenience.
  4. Buddy Search- After completing the Home Visit, the future participant is placed on the Wait List while the Program Manager reviews waiting Citizen Buddies or Buddies and recruits new ones. This process may take time.
  5. Match Party!- This meeting allows the Buddy, Sponsor, & Citizen Buddy to determine if they feel compatible. If the meeting goes well, the match is made!
    *Applicants are not appropriate for participation if they are unable to participate in a mutually enriching friendship, are not independent in personal care tasks, who have severe behavior or anger management issues, and/or have a criminal background

If you would like to join or learn more about Best Buddies, please contact Alyssa Greenstein at AlyssaGreenstein@BestBuddies.org

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Share the LiveUp Love this Valentine’s Day!

14199495_10207251373630135_3031337300677434214_nToday’s post comes from Sarah, who will be co-directing LiveUp DC! 

Can you believe that it’s Valentine’s Day already? Summer is just around the corner! In the meantime, here are 10 Ways you can show your LiveUp Love:

  1. Wear your LiveUp Shirt: Even though people usually wear pinks and reds on Valentine’s Day, pull out your favorite blue LiveUp shirt to sport for the day. You probably have a few different to choose from!
  2. Social Media: Share your favorite LiveUp memory with us. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram. What’s your favorite memory?
  3. Cook your favorite LiveUp Recipe: We always make sure that we learn a new healthy recipe at each program. What a better way to celebrate than some Almond Butter Berries Brownies? (see recipe at the bottom)
  4. Share you LiveUp Story: Did you have a great time last summer? Want to tell us about it? You can log into your account and share your favorite LiveUp story!
  5. Support a business owned by a person with down syndrome: Looking for a treat for your Valentine? Check out Collettey’s Cookies! Collettey is a woman with down syndrome in Boston who started her own cookie busy. I’ve heard rumors that her cinnamon chocolate chip cookie is no joke!
  6. Check out Spirit Club: If you’re in the Maryland Area, you might have heard of Spirit Club. Spirit Club is all about providing “Our mission is to provide supportive and accommodating programs to increase the health & wellness of people of ALL abilities, including people with disabilities, mental health and substance abuse disorders, and age-related diseases.” They just opened their new facility in Kensington, MD. I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with them for a few classes this winter and I always have a blast!
  7. Make a donation: Got an itch to donate to something good? LiveUp wants to make sure that everyone who wants to attend is able to. Donations keeps our program open for everyone. You can donate here!
  8. Send a Valentine to some of our LiveUp friends: Miss your mentor? Haven’t spoken to your roomie in a while? Send them a Valentine!
  9. Tell a friend: Nothing is as good as seeing all of your old friends at LiveUp…except making new friends! Tell your friends about LiveUp! We love to welcome new participants and mentors to join us!
  10. Health Living Exercise: You know so well that we always make sure that we have some morning wellness! Here’s one to get our ready this summer:

• 30 seconds high knees
• 30 seconds butt kicks
• 20 toe touches
• 20 arm circles
Repeat 2 Times!


Almond Butter Berries Brownies
Ingredients
•2 cups unsalted raw almond butter
•2 eggs
•1 cup raw organic honey, melted
•1 tablespoon vanilla extract
•1/2 cup cocoa powder
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
•1 cup fresh berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
•1 very ripe banana

Directions
•Preheat oven to 325°F.
•Grease a baking dish with coconut oil or organic butter and set aside
•In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to blend almond butter to a smoother consistency.
•Beat in the eggs one at a time.
•Add in the honey and the vanilla and continue to blend.
•Add the salt, baking soda, and then slowly add in the cacao powder to prevent the cacao powder from getting all over you.
•By hand gently fold in the chocolate chips and berries and mix well.
•In a separate bowl mash the banana. Add the mashed banana to the brownie mixture and stir in until it is mixed in fully.
•Pour batter baking dish.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the brownies.
•Allow to cool fully
•Cut into squares and enjoy!!

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Get Ready for LiveUp DC!

This Untitledpost comes from Emily, one of the LiveUp DC directors!

*Sneak Peek*- Brad, Sarah, and I have been gearing up for LiveUp DC 2016. We can’t believe that Labor Day weekend is just around the corner and we can finally see all of our plans become a dream come true. We have planned some exciting new activities this year. Participants should be ready to turn on their inner Bollywood, as we will be traveling to George Washington University (in DC) for an Indian dance lesson from the GW Bhangra squad!

*Partner Spotlight*– I, myself, am especially looking forward to partnering with Spirit Club again this year. My older brother, Phillip, along with a few other LiveUp participants, attends programs with Spirit Club year-round.  Spirit Club’s motto is “Fitness for All” and they truly “live up” to just that! When my mom told me Phillip would be enrolling in personal training, my thoughts were, “HA! Yeah right.” As Phillip likes to hang in his room, watch old movies, and stick to his usual, very regimented, routine, I didn’t know how this whole working out thing would go for him. I am utterly amazed by what the trainers at Spirit Club have accomplished with Phillip. When my mom later sent me a text message with a picture of Phillip doing a plank, I had to do a double take! Spirit Club is not simply telling Phillip what to do in the gym, rather, they have given Phillip something to work towards and be intrinsically motivated in reaching his wellness goals. Phillip is nonverbal, but he always sets his soccer ball out with his belongings when preparing for the next day on Wednesday nights because he KNOWS Thursdays are when he goes to his personal training sessions… and he is excited for it! Spirit Club has brought out a whole new side of my brother that my family didn’t know was there or even possible. At LiveUp DC last year, Spirit Club had everyone on their feet participating. I am so eager to see the magic Spirit Club brings this year.

I encourage everyone to check out the Spirit Club website. Personal Training and Group Fitness classes are available and accessible to all! http://spirit-club.com/
And for all of our participants coming to Live Up DC next weekend, WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!!!!

LiveUp, LoveUp,
Emily Weinberger

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