Today’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:
- 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!
- Social Media: Share your favorite LiveUp memory with us. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram. What’s your favorite memory?
- 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)
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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
•2 cups unsalted raw almond butter
•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
•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!!
This 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…
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.
Hi 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
- Chocolate chips (to melt)
- Granola, sprinkles, or your favorite toppings
- Line a sheet pan with waxed paper.
- Cut bananas in half and insert a Popsicle stick halfway into each to make a handle.
- Melt chocolate chips in the microwave.
- Dip the banana in the chocolate to coat it in chocolate, then roll in toppings.
- Put on the wax paper and freeze until hardened.
Mango Strawberry Smoothie
- ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- ½ cup spinach*
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup mango
- Handful of ice cubes
- 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!
- 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)
- In small cup, alternate layers of yogurt, fruit, and toppings.
This post is written by Phil Johnson, LiveUp Philly volunteer!
2016 has provided us a laundry list of things to be sad about. That said, I find my resolve in the fundamental good nature of the world unshaken. It’s very difficult to be a part of something like LiveUp and not leave with an inherent understanding of the good nature within people – a layer of quiet, warm-hearted individuals with a pension for selflessness and a will to better something. If you’ve felt, in your search, that these people are hard to come by: might I suggest this great starting point.
You might start your first program, as I did in 2014, with a little knot it your stomach. It worries you are wholly unequipped for the role you’ve volunteered for. One beautiful aspect of the program is that, once it begins, you simply don’t have time for anxiety. You are responsible to another human being. If you stop to ponder how out-of-your-depth you might be, you’ll be late for the water-gun fight. Or perhaps it’s the genius of the program directors that you never truly feel that worry realized.
It’s about halfway through the weekend and you’ve forgotten about the knot because your face hurts too much. You don’t worry about your face or how unsustainable this amount of smiling is in the long term because you’ve stopped thinking about yourself so much—probably for the first time in a long time. You don’t think about things like paying rent or how you look. For the first time in a long time that great expanse of your day-to-day back in your big city now looks more like a bubble. Those little things you would worry over seem insignificant. You’re reminded how to be so excited about new little things—about dancing however you want to dance, about terrible jokes, about water-gun fights. You forget to be insecure because you’re not thinking about yourself.
I’m now back in my big city, listening to news, slowly reacclimating to my day-to-day—feeling those silly little insignificant things get bigger again and trying to slow it down.
No tragedy will make me forget the quiet, selfless people with their will to better something. Programs like this one happen to attract them in droves. I’ve met some of them (we’re friends now). I go back so that, if nothing else, I can learn to be more like them. I go back to set myself aside in service of someone else. I go back to be reminded about what is significant. I certainly go back for the water-gun fights.
We had an AWESOME time at LiveUp Philly and want to give a HUGE THANKS to Comedy Sportz! Nurse Rachel wrote a poem to show her appreciation!
The LiveUp weekend has been great
But one activity made it especially first rate
First we had some guests come and teach us to act
We loved learning improv that is a fact
To comedy sportz show we went on Friday
Laughing and laughing at all the cast had to say
We got to participate and had the greatest time
They rapped they acted sometimes they even did rhyme
So funny so witty so entertaining the show
We already are so excited for next year to go!
This post is written by Emily Simino, LiveUp San Diego Director!
LiveUp is a place where strangers turn into friends and friends turn into family. It’s an experience unlike any other and one that has brought me some of the most amazing friends I could ever hope to have! One of those people, is my good friend Lisa Newtop. Lisa and I both attended our first LiveUp program, in San Diego, in 2014. We became fast friends and learned that we had a lot in common! Lisa has attended LiveUp San Diego for two years and is very excited about attending her third program this August!
Lisa is sassy, outgoing and friendly. She loves to experience new things and destinations. She likes to travel with family, but also really likes to travel independently like “when I get to fly by myself on an airplane to San Diego and I have my plane ticket on my cell phone”. Lisa travels frequently, “I just went to Maui and swam with turtles!” she exclaimed as we were talking. She then went on to remember when she and I got to swim with dolphins in Mexico together and she “thought it was a shark!” We have had many fun times together, but the most fun is always at LiveUp San Diego.
Some of Lisa’s favorite LiveUp activities have been visiting the equestrian center and spending time with horses, as well as kayaking and having a barbecue on the beach. Another thing that Lisa loves about LiveUp is “the arts and crafts stuff we do sometimes”. I asked Lisa what she was looking forward to the most about LiveUp this year and without hesitation Lisa answered, “the dance!” which is by far one of the best nights of LiveUp every year.
Lisa went on to explain how much she loves that LiveUp focuses on healthy living. Lisa swims, does aerobics and participates in Zumba every Thursday in order to maintain her healthy lifestyle. She also loves to eat healthy foods like “protein smoothies so I don’t get hungry…. Carrot sticks and celery sticks are really good too”. She has passed on some of the knowledge she’s learned at LiveUp with her 20 year old son, Nic.
The last question I asked Lisa was “if someone was not sure if they should come to LiveUp or not, what would you tell them?” She responded very fast, “that they should fill out the form that says that they’re coming because it’s really fun!” Lisa is so right, it is really fun!
Sitting down with Lisa just made me even more excited for LiveUp San Diego 2016! I can’t wait to be reunited with all of my old friends, and form new friendships with people I have yet to meet. See you guys soon!
Is LiveUp Philly 2016 already over? We can’t believe that the weekend flew by so quickly.
Here are some highlights:
Water Park Fun:
On Saturday morning our group beat the heat and headed to Sahara Sam’s for the ultimate water park experience. The
crowd favorites were the family tube slide and the wave pool.
Scavenger Hunt in Spruce Street Harbor Park : We explored Spruce Street Harbor Park and got some silly pictures doing a
Improv Show at ComedySportz: We laughed the night away during the ComedySportz Philadelphia Improv Show. Todd Pontius one of our LiveUp Philly directors, was even called on stage to guest star. Stay tuned for a full recap in coming weeks.
Lions & Tigers and Bears: We woke up early to start our morning at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Acting at Walnut Street Theater: We got the star treatment during our theater workshop with the actors of Walnut Street Theater’s production of Sister Act.
Slip and slide: Our annual water gun fight got taken to the next level with an addition of a slip and slide.
Danced the night away: On Sunday night we put on our best attire and whipped (and nae nae) out our best dance moves. Some of our favorite included an epic rendition of Grease’s Summer Night and a competitive round of Limbo.
#BBQSZN: Monday before closing ceremonies our group was busy in the kitchen cooking up salads, bean dips and graham cracker pies for an awesome and delicious barbecue
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who joined us over Memorial Day. A special shout out to ou
r photographer Samantha DiBendetto for capturing so many great shots throughout the weekend. The weekend may have gone by fast but we are extremely grateful to have so many great memories to look back on.
We can’t wait to see you in 2017!
This post is written by Todd Pontius,
director at LiveUp Philly this Memorial Day Weekend!
Salutations LiveUp Family!
Can you believe that LiveUp Season is right around the corner?? In only a few days, we’ll be reuniting with old friends, forging new relationships, and Living it Up (pun intended) in “the Birthplace of America!” That’s right, 2016’s programs of fun, friendship, and family kick off this weekend with LiveUp Philadelphia!
As with all of the LiveUp Programs, we are incredibly excited for a weekend that perpetually reminds us of our shared abilities as individuals, the profound impact of working together as a community, and the limitless goodness of inspired hearts. All the while, we’ll be experiencing the historic allure and modern vivacity of Philadelphia!
This year, we are switching things up and staying at the Chamounix Mansion in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. In addition to being an amazing house in the middle of a beautiful urban park, we are conveniently located in the middle of the city, with the Zoo, Center City, and Old City right in our proverbial backyard!
A few things regarding what to expect from this weekend:
Fired up for fantastic friendships? Check!
Inspired by independence? There are great activities to promote life skills in the City of Independence!
Hoping for history? Philly’s full of it!
Ignited by improv? ComedySportz is going to give us an amazing show and improv acting lessons!
Wild about waterparks and wacky water battles? (Make sure you have a bathing suit packed!)
Delighted to dance? Nobody cuts the proverbial rug like LiveUp Programs at the dinner dances!
Happy to help with horses? We’re giving back to Fairmount Park and volunteering at a local stable!
Supercharged for singing? KARAOKE.
Zipped up about zoos? #AnimalsForDays
We are so very excited to once again have so many incredible and inspirational individuals join together as a LiveUp Family! See you this weekend, when we show “the City of Brotherly Love” our collective love, spirit, and awesomeness!
LiveUp and LoveUp!
LiveUp Philly 2015
This post is written by Rachael Durkin, director at LiveUp Philly this Memorial Day Weekend!
The directors are wrapping up the last minute details as we approach LiveUp Philly in a few short weeks. I always know LiveUp season is upon us when I get texts from participants about the dinner dance requesting their favorite songs to be played. Or when I get requests for addresses of other participants so they can write each other prior to the program and share their excitement. Or when I see the efforts and promotion around the annual fundraiser – this year being a beer pong tournament to raise money and awareness around LiveUp. It’s an amazing time of year. The excitement and sense of community I feel already is a strong indication of the lasting impact the program has on everyone it touches.
This year for LiveUp Philly we will be having a wonderfully wet weekend, spending Saturday morning at a waterpark and having our annual watergun fight on Sunday. There will be comedy shows, cooking classes, crazy science experiments, theater workshops, and an animal watching expedition at the Philadelphia zoo.
LiveUp reminds and teaches us the importance of friends, how to discover joy in its purest form, how to laugh our heartiest and to completely let go, how to be ourselves and even be a little silly at times (ok…a lot silly). It is also about finding the balance of maintaining this free spirit while holding onto a mature outlook, core values, pride in our independence and inclusion and support for all those around us. It is a few days where the world is a little closer to perfection and I cannot wait for Memorial Day to arrive!