Laura, one of our rock star volunteers, shared this post she wrote for Towsen University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science nOTes Friends & Family Alumni Newsletter.
LiveUp, a long weekend program for adults with Down syndrome, is dedicated to helping participants across four core focus areas: life skill and social skill development, healthy living, and giving back. At LiveUp DC this year, life and social skills included rooming together with peers, preparing our own delicious meals, and trying new things – such as making friends and going on field trips. Our trips included exploring the national mall, visiting the American Visionary Art Museum, and going to an Orioles baseball game! Our focus on healthy living meant we had the opportunity to prepare healthy snacks such as fruit smoothies and granola bars, and participate in wellness activities, such as yoga and aerobics. For giving back, we built bookshelves to house the hundreds of books that we donated last year to a local shelter through the Jena Ashley Smiles 929 Foundation.
LiveUp has an all-volunteer staff that strives to empower each participant to learn, grow, and thrive…One important question that we ask parents before LiveUp Programs is what specific goals they’re working on with their child. Some parents want their children to eat balanced meals; others focus on socialization, or meaningful participation in activities. As mentors, it’s our job to make sure that each participant has the best weekend possible. We do this by ensuring that their needs are met and challenging them at the just-right fit.
In my experience, the best parts of LiveUp are the contagious smiles and the laughter, the cheers from an encouraging friend, and the ”Yes!” you overhear after someone accomplishes a goal. For instance, when building the bookshelves, I taught my roommate, Kelly how to safely use a hammer. She was so proud of herself! I love knowing that we’re making a difference in someone’s life and that a group of people who were once strangers have suddenly changed each others’ lives forever, quickly becoming a family. LiveUp helps bring out the very best qualities in people!”