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.

10363634_473292652816027_9217993158733359284_n

 

 

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See the good in the world

13308239_910504579094830_7815790865385486001_oThis 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.

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Comedy Sportz in Philly!

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!

ComedySportz
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!

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Meet Emily and Lisa!

image1This 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!

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LiveUp Philly 2016: The Recap

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 13308146_909899835821971_7458525809972320127_ocrowd 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 
scavenger hunt. 
 
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.
13329388_910492219096066_1872802446664339843_o
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
 13346122_910495815762373_2421134514854129565_o
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!
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