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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LiveUp San Diego 2016: Lives Changed!

13935171_954253584719929_5242397001370202987_nThis post comes from Derrick, one of the amazing directors at LiveUp SD!

Trying to transfer to you the warmth in our hearts, or even a tenth of the ways our lives were changed would be a triumph that mere words on a page simply can’t produce.  Therefore, allow me to share just a few of the magnetic smiles and irresistibly charming moments we were rewarded with thanks to our 2016 LiveUp SD family.

Friendships were both built and refreshed as the excitement of the next few days became our high octane rocket fuel. We launched towards the HI San Diego Point Loma with no idea of how the adventures ahead would jolt our joy.

With a HEART full of rules that night…
       Have FUN
       Eat healthy, Be healthy
       Always be friends
       Respect my mentor/buddy
       Try new stuff
…we exploded into a fan filled, star-studded lip sync extravaganza.  There was singing, laughing, what some would call “dancing” and a lot of sweat, but the talent-rich performances just kept coming and coming.  The weekend then took off thanks to our partners listed below.

On Saturday night, we crimped our hair and donned our best digs in prep for the FIESTA that Senorita Emily crafted. We enjoyed a delicious meal and a taco piñata before dancing the night away.

It’s hard to avoid the sadness of the last day, but thanks to Parth, Brittini and Em we Zumba-ed away the tears with a finally of dance moves that would likely make even MJ jealous.

Closing ceremony blessed us all with another personality rich expression of the limitless value of LiveUp!  Through words, dance and sign-language we saw a sample of the unmatched elation that can be motivated by nothing more than that precious chromosome that we staff lack.

No two LiveUp weekends are the same, but 2016 #LiveUpSD was certainly one for the ages. Thanks in part to the talents of Nurse Lisa we all made it through. Going often unseen are the countless hours of work that our leaders Emily and Vikki put in for months prior. We love you guys and can’t thank you enough. It’s easy to imagine the fun we had, but thanks to our hero photographer Jake, you can also SEE a bit of it too. The only thing this guy has more of than shoes is talent. Put your seatbelts on and grace your eyes with this motion picture masterpiece here!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who made this weekend possible, especially our friends:

  • Finest City Improv: We jumped right into the fun with Finest City Improv who had us laughing and loving as they organized the thespian masterpiece of the incomparable Bear and Monkey.  Well done Kev and Kelli!
  • Wild Willow Farm: We headed off for an outdoor, organic, educational tour with our new friends at Wild Willow Farm. To savor a tomato that you picked, or a carrot your buddy just pulled from the dirt with a smirk and a “what’s up doc”, is an experience that none will forget.
  • Birch Aquarium:  Already having a blast, we headed to the incredible aquarium where we began a Boston-motivated scavenger hunt (thanks Bendit!) Team SHARKS shocked us all and completed every challenge with enough time left to grab a smoothie at the snack bar.
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center: Saturday smiled at us big as the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center opened early just for LiveUp to show us that science, like being healthy, can be entertaining as well.  Our LiveUp engineers constructed the artistically motorized “scribble-bots” that we used to create auction-worthy art.
  • Mission Bay Aquatic Center: With newfound knowledge we headed to the water because HEY, this is San Diego!  A HUGE thanks to the superstars at Mission Bay Aquatic Center who taught us to swim, sail, kayak and love the aquatic arts as we hung out at the beach.
  • Synergy; a rescue, rehab & sanctuary for special needs animals: And just when we thought our trip could not be topped, enter amazing and super special pups who were about to give AND receive more love than most canine’s get in a month.
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Keep Cool this Summer!

10378272_473292629482696_5902393052886134595_nHi everyone!  My name is Nadia and I am the photographer for LiveUp NYC!  As summer continues to heat up, I’ve been trying to find ways to stay cool. Last year, I went to LiveUp Boston, and we made delicious Chocolate-Covered Frozen Bananas. And I know the LiveUp Philly director Kerri loves making smoothies…and is famous for them! Since I love sweet treats, I’ve decided to round up some of my favorite summer recipes. They are easy, tasty, AND pretty healthy!

We’re headed to LiveUp San Diego this week, so be sure to check our Facebook page for photos! Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas

Ingredients:

  • Bananas
  • Chocolate chips (to melt)
  • Granola, sprinkles, or your favorite toppings
  1. Line a sheet pan with waxed paper.
  2. Cut bananas in half and insert a Popsicle stick halfway into each to make a handle.
  3. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave.
  4. Dip the banana in the chocolate to coat it in chocolate, then roll in toppings.
  5. Put on the wax paper and freeze until hardened.

 

Mango Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup spinach*
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup mango
  • Handful of ice cubes
  1. In blender, combine yogurt and spinach. Then add fruit and ice until smooth and frothy.

*Spinach is full of vitamins…and you don’t even taste it!

 

Berry Parfaits

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup strawberries (sliced), blueberries, raspberries (or your favorite fruit)
  • Handful of dried coconut, granola, chocolate chips (or your favorite toppings)

 

  1. In small cup, alternate layers of yogurt, fruit, and toppings.

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