Newsletter – February 2023

First Place Announces First-of-Its-Kind Report

First Place AZ is thrilled to announce public distribution of the long-awaited Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis (GPHMA). Download the comprehensive report with current data identifying the housing and support needs and preferences of adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities and their family members/caregivers in English and/or Spanish.

Thanks to researchers at the First Place Global Leadership Institute—in collaboration with Arizona market leaders and advisors—Greater Phoenix now has valuable market data on residential demand. The goal is to educate developers to better understand the needs of all-too-often invisible special population and encourage more short-, medium- and long-term independent living housing solutions.

The GPHMA was made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Make Waves Foundation, Bank of America, Stardust Foundation and Dominium.

First Place Resident Shares Tie to Black History Month

One of our very own First Place–Phoenix residents, Lincoln Ragsdale, helped our community kick off Black History Month with some notable Arizona history, thanks to his grandfather’s courageous leadership! Following his career as one of the first Black Tuskegee Airmen, Lincoln Ragsdale Sr. became an influential leader of the civil rights movement in Phoenix. He was determined to achieve equality for all by speaking out on various reform efforts, including voting rights and the desegregation of school and neighborhoods—including his own.

After Lincoln’s presentation, residents and Transition Academy students participated in Black History Bingo to learn more about famous Black people in history and the incredible things they accomplished. It was a great morning of learning about local history and inspiring people determined to change our world for the better. Learn more about Lincoln Ragsdale Sr. and his lasting impact on the Phoenix community.

Tax Credits Help Champion First Place’s “Year of Exploration”

Each year, First Place–Phoenix creates an experiential theme through monthly activities based on the interests of residents and Transition Academy students. We’re excited to announce 2023’s “Year of Exploration!” Participants are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones to explore new experiences teaching them more about our local community and the world at large.

You can support the “Year of Exploration” through the Arizona tax credit and help adults with autism and other neurodiversities build more independent living and social skills. Donate to First Place AZ by Monday, April 18, 2023 for a dollar-for-dollar credit on your 2022 taxes; individuals can claim up to $400 and joint filers up to $800.

Help make exciting exploration experiences possible for the special populations we serve—and thank you for your support!

“Love Is Always…” Event Makes Meaningful, Memorable Connections

Valley mover-and-shaker mom Amy Silverman, executive producer of KJZZ’s weekday broadcast “The Show,” recently hosted “Love is always: a celebration of love, friendship and community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The gathering, sponsored by KJZZ and made possible through Amy’s national fellowship from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, included storytelling and networking, along with an engaging panel of courageous adults with I/DD (including Harry, a resident who came with the First Place–Phoenix group!) eager to share their insights on creating a better community for all.

First Place Community Life Alive and Kicking!

A busy community life calendar keeps First Place–Phoenix residents and staff on the move each month. Check out what they’re up to!

  • For Random Acts Of Kindness Day—a worldwide opportunity for communities to come together to support one another by spreading kindness—participants used “kindness bingo cards” that included month-long activities for practicing kindness toward ourselves and others.
  • Residents embrace Valentine’s Day every year by putting their artistic talents to work. This year was no different, with everyone creating unique Valentine’s Day cards for family and friends, along with Valentine-themed sun catchers to hang in their apartments.
  • First Place football fans—and others who simply wanted to join in the “local” festivities—enjoyed pre-game activities and a super-fun Super Bowl watch party.
  • Residents and students recently visited the Creighton University School of Medicine campus to participate in fine motor skills exercises. Activities included stacking cups, picking up small items, and color-sorting cards and M&Ms to help in understanding fine motor muscles and how they work. They also met with pharmacy and occupational therapy students for some helpful small-group discussions about overall healthcare self-management.

First Place Welcomes Talented New Team Members

We’re excited to welcome two new talented and dynamic team members to First Place–Phoenix.

Josh Munoz joins us as the family & community outreach coordinator. Josh is working with First Place leadership to connect with past, present and future families, as well as support research, employment and public policy initiatives. Josh has more than 10 years of experience working with the ASD population as a senior behavior therapist with Valley organizations.

As vocation specialist, Kaylah McGown works with Natasha Grant, First Place director of workplace and community inclusion, to continue establishing partnerships with employers who celebrate DEI by employing individuals with a neurodiversity. Kaylah has extensive experience working with neurodiverse individuals as a direct support provider, special education instructional assistant and behavior technician.

We’re thrilled to have you both on board, Josh and Kaylah!

Florida Youngster with Autism Hits a “Hole in One”

Floridian Carter Bonas is helping boost employment opportunities for individuals with autism and other neurodiversities. At just 10 years old, Carter has turned his passion for golf into a lucrative business—Spectrum Golf—selling nearly $7,000 in merchandise in 2021 and showing his gear at the 2022 PGA Show in Orlando. Learn more about Carter and Spectrum Golf here.

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