12th Symposium Exceeds Expectations—and Makes Many Memorable Moments!

Huge thanks to all—attendees, speakers and our generous sponsors—for being part of the 12th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium, in person and via webinar.

Participation by and positive feedback from so many local and national pioneering leaders is a testament to the continued interest in fueling a new generation of housing, healthcare and community options for people with autism and other neurodiversities. Together, we can—and will—change the world! 

Enjoy this brief snapshot that captures the essence of three unforgettable and productive days together. And mark your calendars for #13 next October 16–18!

Nov. 2 Screening of New Film “Understanding Autism”

This compelling documentary by Golden Globe®-winning producer/director Scott Steindorff explores the latest research in autism—and how empathy and emotion can help autistic people live happier and more functional lives. Scott was a guest at the symposium, where he spoke with heart and passion about autism through his unique lens (literally) and showed attendees the compelling trailer.

“Understanding Autism” is showing for FREE at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening, Nov. 2 in Mesa at MIX: the Media and Immersive Experience Center. MIX is a collaboration between the City of Mesa and ASU, Scott’s alma mater. RSVP here and get ready for an unforgettable journey through autism—and stick around for a “talkback” with Scott.

A Collective Nod for SARRC’s 2023 YES Day for Autism

Families and friends, along with countless strollers and playful pups, were out in droves on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Tempe Beach Park for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center’s Third Annual YES! Day for Autism. This SARRC event continues to grow in popularity and attendance as the community comes together in a concerted effort “to create more supportive, inclusive communities for people with autism.” 

From 9 a.m. to noon, activities included a Resource Fair with booths and information from Arizona autism providers, live entertainment, eats and treats, a carnival and “Kids’ Zone,” and Sprouts’ perpetually popular pumpkin patch.

This year’s event was also the perfect time and place for First Place AZ to introduce two new key initiatives: Vote the Spectrum, a movement to help raise awareness about the voting rights of individuals with autism and other neurodiversities; and Kiip, an innovative “digital locker” app that keeps vital documents secure, organized and accessible—a convenient and FREE tool for the populations we serve and their families.

Thanks to all who showed up to share. Such invaluable community exchanges continue to drive the momentum for lasting, positive change for the populations we serve and their devoted families.

Notable October Honors for First Place Founder Denise D. Resnik

Denise was honored this month by two leading organizations that recognize dedicated Arizonans who have made and continue to make an enduring difference on myriad levels in our great state.

Denise is proud to join an esteemed list of Historical League Arizona Historymakers, started in 1991, who have distinguished themselves in such areas as arts, athletics, communications, community service, education and entertainment.

The Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame, founded in 1981, also welcomed Denise and three other women of noteworthy accomplishments from around the state, along with four late women leaders inducted as legacy members. Its mission is to “honor, preserve and celebrate the stories of exceptional Arizona women.”

Kudos, Denise, for these amazing honors. First Place AZ is also grateful to benefit from your well-deserved recognition that helps keep autism present in the local, state, national and international consciousness. Onward!

Nov. 7 Webinar on Neurodiverse Arizona Communities

One in 36 children in Arizona is affected by autism, with a growing number of adults being diagnosed with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities. Our communities are facing unprecedented demand for healthcare and support services related to neurodiversity—the term for an array of neurological differences.

Join us at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 the First Place Global Leadership Institute’s latest webinar, sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s Foundation for Community & Health Advancement and titled “Healthcare Equity for Neurodiverse Communities: Leveraging Applied Research and Partnerships.” We’ll take a closer look at the impact of neurodiversity in Arizona. Register here for this free Zoom event. We hope you’ll join us!

First Place Community Life Alive and Well!

Check out what residents were up to this month—from petting some pretty awesome pups to tapping into their creative side—with some eats in between!

Residents are working at staying active and strong in First Place–Phoenix’s Good Life Fitness room with health & wellness specialist and First Place friend Rebecca Bauer.

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Residents sleuthed around the property for odds and ends before mingling over tacos—and a few laughs about their circuitous pursuits.

Precious pups from Pawsitive Friendships popped by on World Mental Health Day to share the power of unconditional love with residents.

Residents recently returned to Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West for another visit and to tap into their creative side during an “inspiriting” art lesson.

First Place AZ in Good Company for Employment Expansion

The First Place Global Leadership Institute is honored to be included in the list of 16 organizations recently awarded funding by the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family (GOYFF) in support of workforce development expanding employment opportunities for Arizonans. The grant for First Place’s be OPEN + be Ready employment initiative will help position Arizona employers in need of loyal, capable employees to train and hire adults with autism and other neurodiversities—so everyone wins!

Finding Meaning in Cleaning

In her latest blog, First Place AZ Founder and President/CEO Denise D. Resnik delves deeper into the meaning of son Matt’s affinity for cleaning.