UPWARD’s Program Calendar 2019-2020 < Return to News

Programs
BIRDIES FOR CHARITY - PLEDGE BY FEBRUARY 2ND - UPWARD For Children & Families

BIRDIES FOR CHARITY - PLEDGE BY FEBRUARY 2ND < Return to News

Birdies = $ for UPWARD! ⛳️

Please pledge and donate to the Birdies for Charity Program for every birdie made during the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Just choose UPWARD as your charity. 

You can pick up a pledge form in our front office or complete online at https://birdiesforcharityAZ.com

Thank you for your support!


Programs
BOARD OF VISITORS AWARDS $34,000 GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING SERVICES - UPWARD For Children & Families

BOARD OF VISITORS AWARDS $34,000 GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING SERVICES < Return to News

UPWARD recently received a $34,000 Grant Award from the Board of Visitors to support its Nursing Program.  We employ two full-time nurses at UPWARD to meet the needs of children who are severely disabled and medically fragile who attend our Private Day School.

UPWARD contracts with eight school districts in the Valley to provide special education for children with severe disabilities.
Programs
THE KEMPER AND ETHEL MARLEY FOUNDATION PROVIDES $50,000 GRANT TO UPWARD FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES - UPWARD For Children & Families

THE KEMPER AND ETHEL MARLEY FOUNDATION PROVIDES $50,000 GRANT TO UPWARD FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES < Return to News

The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation recently awarded a $50,000 Grant to support the Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Program.  UPWARD provides Occupational, Speech, Music and Feeding therapy for children.

Doug Carter, CEO, said, “Pediatric Therapy meets a critical need for families and we are very appreciative for the support of the Marley Foundation.”
Programs
OUTPATIENT PEDIATRIC THERAPY CLINIC RENOVATION UNDERWAY! - UPWARD For Children & Families

OUTPATIENT PEDIATRIC THERAPY CLINIC RENOVATION UNDERWAY! < Return to News

We are in the process of remodeling our Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Clinic here at UPWARD. 

We recently completed a Phase 1 renovation that included opening up our reception area, making it more accessible and welcoming for families.  We also upgraded the bathrooms, adding lower sinks for children as well as new flooring and carpeting.

Phase 2 will include upgraded lighting, a new entrance that will be more accessible, an upgrade of the Feeding Therapy kitchen and replacement of six rooftop air conditioning units.

“We are grateful to the Gila River and Kieckhefer Foundations for their support of this project,” said CEO Doug Carter.  “We provide top notch therapeutic services for low income, under-insured children and we want to ensure our facility meets the same standard.”
Programs
UPWARD EXPERIENCES EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OVER THE PAST YEAR! - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD EXPERIENCES EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OVER THE PAST YEAR! < Return to News

At the conclusion of the Campus Expansion Project in 2016 UPWARD set its sights on growing into the expanded 26,000 square foot campus. “I am pleased to report growth in nearly all program areas,” said CEO Doug Carter.

We opened the 2019-20 school year with a 25% increase in enrollment in our Private Day School serving children with special needs.  We also more than doubled the number of children in our integrated Childcare Program by adding two classrooms.

Prior to the Campus Expansion Project our Day Program for adults (DTA) was at capacity.  We opened a second classroom and are now operating both rooms at 85% capacity.

Finally, we continue to provide quality therapeutic services to many low-income children through our Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Clinic.  “We are very excited that we are able to meet the critical needs for so many children with special needs,” said Sharon Graham, Vice President of Programs.  “UPWARD’s mission is to bring hope and joy to the children we serve.”
Programs
VOTING IS OPEN! - UPWARD For Children & Families

VOTING IS OPEN! < Return to News

VOTE HERE 

READ STORY 


Programs
Vote for UPWARD! - UPWARD For Children & Families

Vote for UPWARD! < Return to News

We have the amazing opportunity to be recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal and receive a $10,000 or $5,000 grant from them this fall. We submitted a story about one of our students, Ellie (see her story below), and were selected as one of 15 out of 80 submissions.

As a winner, our story will be published in the July 19th “Phoenix Stories” special section of the Phoenix Business Journal. In addition,  it was distributed today at the July 18th Non-Profit Business Summit.
We are asking that you vote online on the Phoenix Business Journal’s website from July 20th through September 6th.  Click to VOTE here

Thank you for helping UPWARD and spreading the word about the work that we do!

Ellie, who is nearly five years old, came to Upward’s inclusive child-care program a year and a half ago. She was quiet, reserved and unable to talk. Ellie has WieackerWolff Syndrome; as a result, she has little muscle control in her legs and is unable to crawl or walk. She is quite bright, but a number of developmental delays make it hard for her to speak, eat, and perform everyday activities like dressing herself.

At her previous child care center, Ellie’s fragile legs had been stepped on by another child. Her parents were anxious to find a place where Ellie could be safe and thrive. Upward specializes in providing care for children with and without disabilities in an integrated environment where all abilities are recognized and celebrated.

And today? Ellie has blossomed into Upward’s unofficial social butterfly - zipping around the campus in her child-size wheelchair, smiling brightly and high-fiving everyone she sees.

Ellie’s parents were so happy with her progress that they enrolled Ellie in Upward’s specialeducation preschool and our therapy program, where she participates in speech, feeding and occupational therapies.

Today, Ellie is learning to speak, eat more solid foods, and dress herself. She’s quite proficient on the iPad, which is one of the tools she uses for drawing, hand-eye coordination, and other learning activities. Ellie’s parents hope to get an augmentative communication device for Ellie so she can better communicate her needs while she learns to speak.

‘I’ve always wanted to find a place where Ellie could not only be cared for, but where she could really blossom and flourish - and that’s what we’ve found at Upward. I don’t have to worry about the things that come along with a child who has a disability. Here she doesn’t have a disability, she’s just Ellie.’ - Ellie’s father, Ryan Anderson.

Ellie’s 1-year-old brother has also joined Upward’s child care program. That’s more significant than it might sound. The siblings get to stay together - and it also helps relieve the stress and logistical issues families who have a child with a disability face when they are forced to use two different child care centers.

Ellie has truly benefited from Upward’s coordinated approach to care. Her child care teachers, special education preschool teachers, and therapists all work together to ensure Ellie has the support she needs to grow and thrive.
Programs
UPWARD IS SERVING MORE ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH THE DAY TRAINING FOR ADULTS PROGRAM (DTA) - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD IS SERVING MORE ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH THE DAY TRAINING FOR ADULTS PROGRAM (DTA) < Return to News

At the conclusion of the Campus Expansion Project, UPWARD opened a second classroom for adults who are medically fragile with severe disabilities.  CEO Doug Carter said “We only had the capacity to serve eight adults prior to the expansion and we knew there were other families that would benefit from our services.  We opened a second classroom and now have the capacity to serve 16.  We currently have 13 adults enrolled which means we are operating at 80% capacity.”
UPWARD launched the DTA Program in 2010 to provide families a respite while we care for their loved ones.


Programs
UPWARD SELECTED IN THE TOP 15 BY THE PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL BEST STORIES - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD SELECTED IN THE TOP 15 BY THE PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL BEST STORIES < Return to News

UPWARD was recently selected as one of the top 15 nonprofits who submitted stories to the Phoenix Business Journal.  CEO Doug Carter said “There were 84 nonprofit organizations that submitted their stories to the Phoenix Business Journal and we were one of the 15 selected.”
“Our story about Ellie Anderson will be published on July 19th in the Business Journal.  All winners will be included in online voting from July 20 to September 6, 2019, hosted by the Business Journal. The winner will receive a $10,000 grant and second place will receive $5,000.”  The website for the Phoenix Business Journal is www.bizjournals.com/Phoenix


Programs
Exciting Campus Projects Recently Completed - UPWARD For Children & Families

Exciting Campus Projects Recently Completed < Return to News

UPWARD recently completed two major facility projects.  In March during Spring Break, we completed construction of covered parking to combat the summer heat.  The Steele Foundation provided a generous grant to fund the project.
Additionally, we recently renovated the Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Clinic, making the lobby and bathrooms more accessible as well as improving the flooring and lighting.  The Kieckhefer Foundation provided a generous grant to fund this project.

Programs
UPWARD’S Childcare Program More Than Doubles in Growth - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD’S Childcare Program More Than Doubles in Growth < Return to News

Prior to the Campus Expansion Project that concluded in 2016, UPWARD Leadership identified quality affordable childcare as a critical community need.  As a result, we have expanded our Childcare Program, increasing our capacity from 20 to 52 slots and we are currently full with a waiting list.  The UPWARD Childcare Program is rated 4 Stars by Quality First.
Programs
A Declaration of Hope: Ellie’s Story - UPWARD For Children & Families

A Declaration of Hope: Ellie’s Story < Return to News

Every child’s birth should be a brazen act of faith and a declaration of hope. Most acts — the brazen ones most especially — are ultimately tested. Meeting those tests requires love if we are to not only overcome, but to grow in grace.
_________________________________________

Ryan and Micha Anderson had no shortage of love and grace from the very start of their life to-gether. If not for that love, they might have responded very differently upon learning that their as yet unborn child showed clear indications of a severe genetic disorder. While their physicians’ advice was to terminate the pregnancy, Ryan and Micha opted for a brazen act of faith by bring-ing their daughter Ellie into the world.

The Andersons met in Tucson at the company where they were both employed. “We were in our early twenties with no kids and working our butts off in the hospitality industry,” Ryan recalls. They were also in love. Following their marriage, they decided that a new life challenge was in order and moved to San Francisco, where Ryan had accepted a job. Their most profound chal-lenge began, however, when not long after moving they discovered that Micha was pregnant.

Ryan and Micha were elated when they saw the first ultrasound images of their daughter. Their doctors were not. Ellie was diagnosed in utero with a genetic disorder serious enough to warrant the termination of the pregnancy — but Ellie’s parents weren’t inclined to give up on her. “We’re not particularly religious,” says Ryan, “but our thought was that there’s something bigger going on here. We hung tight and let that little gift grow.”

It was only at her birth that Ryan and Micha realized how woefully unprepared their medical team was to respond to the needs of their newborn, as well as her mother. “Micha was in a really bad place following an emergency c-section,” Ryan recalls, “and I was faced with the decision of staying with my wife or rushing with my daughter to the NICU. I went with Ellie, and that was where we stayed for the next 20 days or so.”

Ellie’s legs were badly misshapen, with her right foot resting on her left shoulder. “We’ve been working every day since we brought her home to help that little flower unfurl,” says Ryan. With years of therapy, effort, and love, Ellie was able to transition to a wheelchair, and she has been able to gain not only physical mobility but some verbal ability as well.

The need for a broader support network took Ryan, Micha, and their daughter back to Phoenix, where they could be closer to family in Tucson. Their choice of cities proved a godsend as well from the standpoint of daycare resources. They worried about the environment in which Ellie would spend her time outside of home — particularly after a mishap at their previous daycare resulted in Ellie suffering a broken femur (the cause of which Ryan remains unsure of to this day). Needless to say, they were “choosy.”

The first thing that attracted Ryan and Micha to Upward was its concept of integrated class-rooms. Says Ryan, “As the parent of a child with special needs, the last thing you want is for your child to feel different. I would rather she adjust to life as a normal kid who happens to have special needs.” The Andersons also liked Upward’s student/teacher ratio, its nutritional standards, and the overall care they witnessed from the staff. Thanks in part to a state-funded “Empower-ment Scholarship,” Ellie enrolled at Upward, and she currently attends a pre-school program that includes physical therapy, as well as receiving occupational therapy through an outpatient pro-gram.

When Upward’s Director of Education, Angelia Fugatt, first met Ellie, she was “in awe.” “I’d never seen a child with such a strong will and a delightful way — she is amazing.” In spite of Ellie’s physical limitations, Angelia describes her as cognitively “high functioning.” She is learning her ABCs and can identify colors, shapes, and numbers. She is also a very hard worker, Angelia notes. “Once, when I was unable to work with Ellie, I told her that it had been a very busy day. She responded with a disappointed ‘awww’. Another time I playfully told her that she was tired and she should maybe take a nap. She signed, ‘No…help me work!’”. And should Ellie perceive anything missing from a lesson, she is quick to call her teacher’s attention to that lapse. “She is able to conquer tasks right away and always wants to learn more. She’s a go-getter,” Angelia observes.

Ellie can now push herself in her wheelchair, and her added independence and mobility have made her that much more outgoing. “She wheels around and high fives everyone,” notes An-gelia. “One time she noticed a new person, and she wheeled over, introduced herself and shook hands.” She also has a best friend named River. “River is a very normal kid whose best friend just happens to be in a wheelchair,” says Ryan. “How awesome for him!”

With Ellie turning five, the Andersons find themselves at a bittersweet juncture in their child’s life. Next year, Ellie will attend kindergarten at her local public school. “It’s a heartbreaking time,” says Ryan. “She is excited to do this, and I’m really nervous — but it wouldn’t be possible were it not for Upward and what they did for Ellie. It has been such a great incubator.”

Just as it had happened with their first move as a married couple, Ryan and Micha once again found themselves expecting a child as they settled into their new home in Phoenix. Their son, Bodie, is now nearly two, and very pleased to have a big sister like Ellie. The benefit goes both ways, Ryan points out. “Bodie is driving Ellie to grow, and now I have a son who has nothing oth-er than acceptance of people with disabilities. They are very close.”

Whatever normal parental anxieties the Anderson's may have regarding Ellie’s kindergarten ca-reer, especially when compared to her experience at Upward, Ryan and Micha have nothing but hope for their daughter’s future. “The thing that has always been fantastic about Ellie is that she is just a really old soul — to be so challenged and to have such a wonderful attitude,” says Ryan. “She is always excited, always smiling. Yesterday was pirate day (at Upward). Captain Jack Sparrow arrived and the kids were excited but a little scared when a sword fight began…so tell me how my daughter, who can’t walk and whose speech is extremely hard to understand, grabbed a sword and fought a pirate! But that’s who Ellie is. She conquers almost everything that she tries, even though she gets frustrated because she can’t communicate the way she wants to. We’ve learned some good coping mechanisms around that, and she is really adaptive.”

Asked where he thinks Ellie gets her confidence, Ryan is quick to answer. “I’d like to think Ellie gets it from both her parents, but I really think it’s mostly due to her mother, who is a breathtaking woman. You won’t meet a harder fighter than my wife, and I think a lot of that comes from the notion that none of us will settle for ‘can’t’. There is a lot of curiosity going on in our house.”

The Andersons know that Ellie’s curiosity about the world is mirrored by the world’s curiosity about her, and about what makes her different. This hasn’t always been easy to cope with, and Ryan recalls that, “We had a period during which we had to do serial casting — constantly bend-ing her legs in the right direction, which was very painful for her; and the sight of an infant who weighs twelve pounds and is wearing a four pound cast gets people’s attention. We were out in public, and someone asked me what was wrong with her. I replied in a not very nice way at the time, but I realize now that people ask out of curiosity. When you’re not around people with spe-cial needs, it can be hard. You don’t know what to do or say…there are so many questions.”

The Andersons would like to devote themselves more fully to those questions…and to sharing Ellie’s story with a world that can always benefit from more inspiration. “I want people to know that there is nothing wrong with Ellie…that it is okay to ask someone about why their child is in a wheelchair,” says Ryan. “I’d like people to understand that they should ask about her. I want the world to see that it is okay to have special needs. I want my daughter to change the world…and I want everyone to see that happen.”

Toward that end, Ryan and Micha contemplate yet another brazen act. “We would like to get our teaching certificates and take our kids on the road with us to meet the 10 to 12 other families that we know of who have someone with Ellie’s condition.” On that journey, the Andersons also want to share their declaration of hope. “I don’t want anyone to think this is a burden…it’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to me,” says Ryan. “I want to do anything I can to tell people that love is the most important thing you can give your kids. They don’t need to walk…you just have to love them.”

In the meantime, the Anderson’s brazen act of five years ago continues to resonate, and Ryan readily acknowledges the blessings of the decision he and Micha made regarding their daugh-ter’s birth, despite its odds for heartache. Which is not to say that there aren’t tears. “Ellie makes me cry once a day,” Ryan admits, “and I feel like a chamber grows in my heart. As a parent, I feel it’s my job to teach her how to be a great human. Ironically, she is the one teaching me…and that is a gift I would never trade for the entire world.”
Programs
Heroes: Love is the Light in Josefa Almanza’s Eyes - UPWARD For Children & Families

Heroes: Love is the Light in Josefa Almanza’s Eyes < Return to News



Josefa Almanza has been a speech therapist at Upward for Children and Families for the past eight years. We spoke to her about the unique challenges she has faced on a personal level, and how love and resolve helped make her into the woman, wife, mother and successful professional she is today.

This is her story and these are her words.


“There is no treatment, no cure, and no prognosis”

I was in college in Tucson, Arizona — a four hour drive from my hometown of Yuma, Arizona —when I went to see a retina specialist. He told me he needed to talk to my parents. The diagnosis was a disease we had never heard of - retinitis pigmentosa (RP). He told us that there was no treatment, no cure, and no prognosis. I heard the doctor explain that I would eventually become blind, and I don’t remember anything else about that visit. I went back to my room at college, and didn’t come back out again for two weeks. My roommate called my parents and told them that they needed to come and get me. I had sunk into a severe depression. I was 21 years old.

My parents did what parents in a Hispanic culture do. They took me home and told me they would take care of me for the rest of my life. My diagnosis was in November, and one day in December my family had a cookout in the backyard. My father was making his specialty, carne asada, one of my favorite meals. I looked out the window and wondered why I was in my room missing all of this. I got up, I got dressed, and I went outside. On that day, I decided I was ready to get on with my life. I went back to college in January, and graduated within a year from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s in Spanish Linguistics.

I have always liked and studied different languages. After high school, I became a foreign exchange student in Gallivare, Sweden. I was speaking fluent Swedish within three months, I travelled throughout Scandinavia and celebrated New Year’s 1990 in Leningrad, Russia. When I returned home, I knew when I went to college that I wanted to do something with languages and travel. In my communication disorders class I had to shadow a speech therapist. I couldn’t understand why anyone would have a problem learning one language when I was learning multiple languages! I didn’t realize that speech disorders occur everywhere. I saw the therapist doing an evaluation and treatment of a high school student and I was in shock. I started a master’s program in communication disorders in 1996 at Arizona State University and graduated in 1998. This past May I celebrated 20 years of practicing speech and language pathology — twelve of those years I worked in public schools throughout the state of Arizona. I’ve been here at Upward for the past eight years.

Because of the support I received from my immediate family, I now counsel the families I work with. I know that with their support and their participation with their own children is what is going to make the biggest difference in their lives. I’ve experienced that first hand. I don’t know where I would be if it hadn’t been for my family.

“When a man knows what he wants, he gets it”

In 2001, my school age girlfriends invited me to go out dancing on a Friday night. I didn’t want to go, but my friends insisted. That night I met my husband, Tomás. He asked me to dance and I recalled my grandmother telling me that if a man has the courage to ask you to dance, you dance with him at least once. After that you can say, “thank you, but no more.” So we danced, and we talked, and the rest is history.

I still had some sight at that point, but I told Tomás to educate himself on RP. He called the next day to ask whether if it was my mom or my dad who had RP. I told him it was me, and without a doubt or concern he simply said, “Okay.” I asked if he was concerned about my impending blindness, and he replied that he wasn’t. He said that when a man knows what he wants, he will get it. A year later we were married.

We decided that we should start a family right away since I was still sighted. Our son James was born in 2003. At difficult moments in my life, I remind myself that I want to see my son grow older and be a gentleman. James is 15 now, and I am so proud of him and often remind him that, “he is the light in my eyes.”

“There is nothing in my life that is lacking”

One of my stress relievers is baking. I have all my kitchen stuff labeled in braille. My specialty is banana nut bread and my nephews claim I make a great apple cobbler. But my personal favorite is carrot cake (with cream cheese icing, of course). I make it every Thanksgiving – though neither Tomás nor James like it so I indulge myself once a year!

In the last few years I jog regularly to stay fit. I am trained to jog with my neighbor, my husband or son. I am trained to be in front of my jogging partner. I tap the curb with my cane, and they are right behind me, giving me verbal clues on what is ahead. For the last five years I’ve done a 10K in Somerton, Arizona. I run side-by-side with my husband and hold onto his elbow because there is no curb on the highway. I still need to use my cane on my right hand, and we run approximately 6.7 miles. I still can’t believe I finish that 10K each year, but the secret is the energy I received from words of motivation and encouragement from fellow runners throughout the race.

I also love to travel and yet have many places to see. I want to go and see Mount Rushmore. I want to climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I want to see the Niagara Falls. I won’t actually see any of these places, but I’ll hear them. I’ll feel them. I’ll sense them. For me, the simple fact of being there IS just like seeing it. I often catch myself throughout conversations saying, “I saw” — but as a blind person I do not see things with my eyes, but I see them with my heart.

Being blind is not easy, but it is not impossible. I still have my bad days. I fall down, I cry, I get mad at the world and angry at everyone…and then I get back up again. I remember that I have a full life. There is nothing in my life that is lacking. I have my profession, I have my husband, my extended family, I became a mother - all the things I thought I would never do in life, and I’m doing them. And I know that there are still many more things I need to do, perhaps transport myself in a self-driving car in the near future!
Programs
THUNDERBIRDS CHARITIES AWARDS 60K GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING PROGRAM AT UPWARD - UPWARD For Children & Families

THUNDERBIRDS CHARITIES AWARDS 60K GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING PROGRAM AT UPWARD < Return to News

Thunderbirds Charities recently awarded a grant for $60,000 to support Nursing Services at UPWARD for Children and Families.  
 
UPWARD is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in Arizona serving children with special needs.  A number of the children who attend UPWARD programs are severely disabled and medically fragile, therefore needing nursing services.  As part of the Nursing Program, UPWARD has on staff two full time nurses to meet the needs of the children on campus. 
 
Doug Carter, CEO, said, “We are extremely grateful for Thunderbirds Charities’ support of our Nursing Program.  The children we serve at UPWARD have numerous challenges and could not attend programs on campus without nursing on-site.” 
In addition to the grant for Nursing, Thunderbirds Charities also awarded 100K for the Campus Expansion Project completed in 2016.
 
“We’re extremely proud to help UPWARD continue to make a positive impact in our communities,” said Thunderbirds Charities President Carlos Sugich.
 
 
Thunderbirds Charities
Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. For more information on The Thunderbirds or the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit www.wmphoenixopen.com. For more information on Thunderbirds Charities, visit www.thunderbirdscharities.org.
 
 
Programs
Heroes: Marjorie Steps Out - UPWARD For Children & Families

Heroes: Marjorie Steps Out < Return to News



For years, Maria believed that her youngest daughter Marjorie would never know any independence in her life. She even warned Marjorie’s older brother and sister that they should prepare themselves to take on Marjorie’s care in the future. When Marjorie was at school, Maria found herself constantly worrying about her daughter’s safety. Something had to change…for Maria, for Marjorie and for their family.

Marjorie is eleven years old and was diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a young child. In addition, damage to her occipital lobe at age five led to complete blindness when she was just seven years old. Marjorie’s issues led her to act out behaviorally, to the point where Maria and her husband could not take Marjorie out in public. They took turns going to church and the grocery store so that Marjorie would never be home without an adult present. Marjorie’s world was small, and limited to what was already familiar to her.

But two years ago, a transformation began - thanks to the Upward for Children and Families program and a very special speech pathologist named Josefa Almanza. Josefa is also blind, and felt a special kinship with Marjorie. Initially, the two worked on speech therapy, but Josefa and Marjorie’s work together soon expanded to include social skills too. Knowing that support at home would be a vital component to Marjorie’s success, Josefa addressed Maria and her fears about Marjorie’s future as well.

Josefa began taking Marjorie out, going to as many places as possible. And so, little by little, Marjorie’s world began to grow. Marjorie loves apples, so Josefa took her to the supermarket with the goal of finding an apple among all the fruits and vegetables in the produce section. With each accomplishment, her confidence increased and her behavior improved. “Josefa has been so good for Marjorie,” says Maria.  

Marjorie also greatly benefited from music therapy at Upward. When she first started, Marjorie was overwhelmed and wore noise cancelling earmuffs most of the time, sitting far away from the instruments. Slowly, Marjorie moved closer and closer, and eventually she shed the earmuffs. One day, Marjorie actually began singing, and is now able to sing most of the songs. Music therapy has helped her to become more verbal and to better acclimate to everyday sounds and noises. Again, Upward helped to enlarge the surroundings in which Marjorie can feel comfortable.

Nine months ago, Marjorie began mobility training at Upward. She was a fast learner and now uses a white cane, further showing her independence in the outside world. However, challenges do continue to exist. At home, Maria is tempted to fall back into the exhausting pattern of trying to do everything for her daughter. But with Josefa’s help and encouragement, Maria hopes that the newfound abilities Marjorie exhibits at school will soon spill over into her everyday home environment too.

In the meantime, Maria is thrilled with the difference in Marjorie’s personality, especially compared to her behavior prior to Upward. “We can go to people’s houses,” she said. “Marjorie is definitely more lovable and social.” Marjorie is so calm and well-behaved that she and Maria have even been able to go grocery shopping together!

Maria describes Upward as “the best thing that could have happened” to Marjorie. Not only has it dramatically improved Marjorie’s quality of life, it has also changed Maria’s life as well. Whereas she previously “was always stressed out,” Maria says, “I now am so calm at home with Marjorie being at Upward. I no longer worry like I used to.”

Marjorie’s desire to please Josefa has been a strong motivator for her to stay on track. “I feel that she wants to show Josefa that she listens and is able to do what is being asked of her at all times,” says Maria. Consequently, at those times when Marjorie’s behavior at home becomes difficult, Maria reminds her that Josefa would not approve.

Marjorie’s success is a reminder that the focus of Upward for Children and Families is embodied in its name. While Marjorie’s treatments are designed to help her directly, the program works because it simultaneously takes the concerns and goals of her entire family into account. Josefa and all of Upward’s passionate, dedicated staff make the world more manageable for children with disabilities, and in doing so they also give much-needed hope and strength to their families.
Programs
THE KIECKHEFER FOUNDATION AWARDS UPWARD WITH A $20K GRANT - UPWARD For Children & Families

THE KIECKHEFER FOUNDATION AWARDS UPWARD WITH A $20K GRANT < Return to News

The Kieckhefer Foundation recently awarded UPWARD for Children and Families with a $20,000 grant as part of a renovation project of the Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Clinic.  On average, 60 children per week receive therapy at UPWARD.  A number of the children are low income and are referred to UPWARD by the Department of Developmental Disabilities. 
CEO Doug Carter said, “We are grateful for the support from the Kieckhefer Foundation.  The Therapy Clinic is the oldest building on campus. This grant will assist us with Phase I.”
Programs
Heroes: Roxanne Finds Her “Voice” - UPWARD For Children & Families

Heroes: Roxanne Finds Her “Voice” < Return to News



Roseanna Bryant remembers the first time she became truly concerned about her baby daughter, Roxanne. “She was six months old and wasn’t sitting up by herself or crawling,” said Bryant. “The test results came back showing that she was missing a chromosome affecting her speech and mobility.”

Despite the advantages of having a parent who was willing and able to devote her full-time attention to Roxanne and her six siblings, by the time she reached kindergarten age, Roxanne remained unable to talk or move herself beyond crawling. This was at this point that Roseanna and her husband became aware of the Upward program.

Sharon Graham, Upward’s Vice President of Programs, recalls the little girl who entered the school in August 2016. “She didn't walk…she crawled; she didn't use utensils…she used her hands; she didn't talk…she pointed to things or became frustrated; she didn't see very well…she held everything two inches from her eyes. She didn't really play with toys, she would inspect them and then move on to something else.”

But in spite of the challenges facing Roxanne — challenges that would have been all but insurmountable in a traditional school environment — the staff at Upward saw many other things in Roxanne…things that her mother had long recognized as well. Roxanne was smart, interested in the world, and looking for connection with it. She also enjoyed music, one-on-one attention, and the opportunity to assert her independence. Alongside these traits was a personality that won the hearts of staff and classmates alike.

One of the biggest initial hurdles facing Roxanne was her eyesight. Her vision teacher at Upward helped set up eye doctor appointments for Roxanne, and accompanied Roseanna Bryant as an advocate for Roxanne’s needs. The doctor prescribed glasses, and although the drastic change in her vision made Roxanne reluctant to wear them initially, she gradually became used to them — just as she was becoming used to using a walker and expanding her sign language vocabulary.

As the school year progressed, Roxanne began letting go of her walker and taking independent steps. By summer break she was walking with her hands in the air and a wide gait. Roxanne’s physical independence was matched by her increasing ability to make her needs known through signing — even signing “hello” when visitors would come to her classroom. Her pride in her accomplishments was demonstrable.



Today, Roxanne is a very different little girl than the one who began the Upward program. She wears her glasses most of the time, walks independently, and is even trying to use her voice. Once uncomfortable being anyplace other than her home or at her grandmother’s, she now enjoys visiting the Upward offices, greeting whoever is there, and checking out the room — leaving with her version of “the Queen’s wave”. 

For Roseanna Bryant, the changes in her daughter only enhance the joy she sees in her. “She’s like a normal eight year old, but one that doesn’t talk. She is doing more independent activities, uses utensils to eat, and is very smart. She knows what she wants when it comes to certain things.” Considering Upward’s role in her daughter’s development, Roseanna credits the program with not only providing an environment that has nurtured Roxanne’s physical development, but her social development as well. In contemplating Roxanne’s future, Roseanna acknowledges that her daughter already possesses those things any parent would want for their child: love and happiness. “Upward provides her with a social setting that gives her a feeling of independence. The program and staff have had a lot to do with that.”
Programs
UPDATE YOUR FRY’S CARD TO BENEFIT UPWARD - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPDATE YOUR FRY’S CARD TO BENEFIT UPWARD < Return to News

Fry’s recently upgraded their system, and as a result our Non-Profit Organization (NPO) has a new account number NP840.  Please link your Fry’s Rewards Card to UPWARD.  Fry’s Community Rewards is easy to use, The more our supporters shop with Fry’s, the more money UPWARD will earn (at no additional cost to you)!

If you have not yet signed up for this, please go to our website at www.upwardaz.org and click on ‘ Donate.’ Then drop down and click on ‘Different Ways to Give’ where you will find detailed instructions on how to sign up for the Fry’s Community Reward Program.  


Programs
BOARD OF VISITORS AWARDS $20,000 GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING SERVICES - UPWARD For Children & Families

BOARD OF VISITORS AWARDS $20,000 GRANT TO SUPPORT NURSING SERVICES < Return to News

We are pleased to announce the Board of Visitors recently awarded a $20,000 Grant to UPWARD for Children and Families.  As one of the oldest non-profit organizations in Arizona serving children with special needs, UPWARD is grateful for the support of the Board of Visitors.

CEO Doug Carter said “This grant will help UPWARD meet the medical needs of children who are medically fragile and severely disabled.  This is the second consecutive year the Board of Visitors has supported the Nursing Program at UPWARD.” 
Programs
STEELE FOUNDATION PROVIDES $200,000 GRANT TO UPWARD FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES - UPWARD For Children & Families

STEELE FOUNDATION PROVIDES $200,000 GRANT TO UPWARD FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES < Return to News

We are pleased to announce the Steele Foundation recently awarded a $200,000 Grant to UPWARD for Children and Families to provide covered parking on campus as well as support for our Integrated Childcare Program.

Since the completion of our Campus Expansion Project, UPWARD has increased capacity in the Childcare Program going from 20 Childcare students to 52.  We added an Infant Room and two additional Toddler rooms. 

We are very appreciative of the support from the Steele Foundation and look forward to continued excellence in our 4-Star rated Childcare Program.
Programs
AmazonSmile donates to UPWARD when you do your holiday shopping - UPWARD For Children & Families

AmazonSmile donates to UPWARD when you do your holiday shopping < Return to News

Programs
VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS SHARON GRAHAM CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AT UPWARD! - UPWARD For Children & Families

VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS SHARON GRAHAM CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AT UPWARD! < Return to News

     

Sharon Graham celebrated her 25-year Anniversary as an employee of UPWARD on June 14, 2018.  Sharon began her employment in 1993 in the role of Education Services Coordinator.  Prior to being hired at UPWARD she enjoyed several years in teaching positions and served as Special Education Coordinator at Lincoln County R-3 Schools in Missouri.  Sharon also served as Adjunct Professor teaching Orientation to Exceptional Children at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix.

Over the course of her 25 years at UPWARD, Sharon assisted with the Capital Campaign and 4.1 Million Dollar Campus Expansion Project.  She also has overseen significant growth in the Private Day School, Adult Training Program, Childcare and Pediatric Therapy Clinic. 

CEO Doug Carter said he “was impressed from day one with Sharon’s willingness to do whatever it takes to provide quality programs and services for the children and their families that attend UPWARD.”

“We thank her for her service and look forward to continued excellence!”
Programs
UPWARD Leadership Change - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD Leadership Change < Return to News

After several years of distinguished leadership as Board President, Jim Bissonett’s board term ended in January 2018. Jim was instrumental in the growth of UPWARD including the 4.1 million dollar Capital Campaign and campus expansion project. As a result of his leadership, new and expanded programs launched in 2016-2017 providing critical services for children with disabilities and their families. We wish Jim the best of luck in his future endeavors.

At the annual meeting on April 25, 2018 Jos Anshell was elected as the new Board President. Jos has served on the UPWARD board for many years and he served on the Capital Campaign Cabinet tasked with raising funds for the new campus. Jos is former CEO of Moses Anshell Marketing Company and recently launched his own company, Marketing Forensics, which provides consulting services to Valley companies. UPWARD board and senior staff recently completed a new 5 year strategic plan and Jos will help lead the next phase of growth and development for the organization.

Programs
The Leveler Foundation Supports UPWARD! - UPWARD For Children & Families

The Leveler Foundation Supports UPWARD! < Return to News

The Leveler Foundation recently approved a $4,000 grant to support outpatient therapy at UPWARD. This grant will assist UPWARD in providing services that meet critical community needs. We are thankful for our partnership with The Leveler Foundation as they have provided multi-year grants to the organization.
Programs
UPWARD Celebrates 60th Anniversary!! - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD Celebrates 60th Anniversary!! < Return to News

This year marks our 60th year at UPWARD, serving children and young adults with disabilities.  We experienced significant growth over the years in our Private Day School, Adult Day Training Program, Pediatric Therapy Clinic and Childcare Program.

We recently completed a 4.1 million dollar campus expansion which added an additional 20,000 square feet to the campus.  We opened an integrated Infant Care Program, a Toddler Program and will launch a Family Respite Program in March of this year.

We are thankful to all of our supporters over the years who have made it possible for us to carry out Our Mission of “Bringing Hope and Joy to the Children We Serve”.
Programs
UPWARD SET TO LAUNCH FAMILY RESPITE PROGRAM - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD SET TO LAUNCH FAMILY RESPITE PROGRAM < Return to News

The first weekend in March UPWARD will launch a Respite Care Program for parents of children with severe disabilities and/or children who are medically fragile.

Caring for a child with a disability often includes weekly medical and therapy appointments, managing medical equipment and medications, and handling the child’s self-care needs: feeding, dressings, etc.  Doug Carter, CEO, said, “This program will provide a break for families whose children are 100% dependent on them.   We are really excited about the launch of this program.”
Programs
UPWARD EXPANDS CHILDCARE - UPWARD For Children & Families

UPWARD EXPANDS CHILDCARE < Return to News

A year ago UPWARD opened an Infant Care Program that is now operating at 90% capacity.

On January 2nd UPWARD launched a Toddler Program, increasing overall childcare capacity from 30 to 42.  Doug Carter, CEO, said, “The demand is high for quality affordable childcare, infant through preschool.  We see the opening of the Toddler Program as meeting a critical community need.”
Programs
Thunderbirds Charities Awards $30,000 Grant to UPWARD for children and families - UPWARD For Children & Families

Thunderbirds Charities Awards $30,000 Grant to UPWARD for children and families < Return to News

Phoenix, Ariz. (December 2017) – UPWARD for children and families recently received a $30,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support Project UPWARD Nursing, which provides nursing services for children who have severe disabilities and are medically fragile. The grant will specifically support registered nurse and licensed practical nurse care to ensure that the children's medical needs are met so that they can attend school.

“The children that attend UPWARD have significant medical needs so providing onsite nursing is critical,” said UPWARD CEO Doug Carter.

UPWARD has been dedicated to a simple yet powerful purpose: To see past a child’s disability, recognize their unique abilities, and do everything in our power to ensure these children and their families thrive—through education, therapy and loving care. Due to a passionate commitment to this calling, Upward is many of the Valley school districts’ primary provider of special education, therapy and childcare for children with severe disabilities. For more information on UPWARD, visit www.upwardaz.org

Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. For more information on Thunderbirds Charities or the Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit www.wmphoenixopen.com or call the Thunderbirds office at (602) 870-0163.
Programs
Phoenix Suns Charities Supports UPWARD! - UPWARD For Children & Families

Phoenix Suns Charities Supports UPWARD! < Return to News

Phoenix Suns Charities presented UPWARD with a $7,500 check to provide nursing services for our children. Elana Mastov, RN at UPWARD, said “This money helps us continue to give our students an opportunity to attend school as any typical child would. It allows us to provide direct care to the students by administrating medications, breathing treatments, feedings via feeding pump, etc.”

The Phoenix Suns Charities also donated two tickets to a Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks game in November. These will be raffled off to one lucky UPWARD staff member!
Programs
Amazon Smile Program - UPWARD For Children & Families

Amazon Smile Program < Return to News

Shop for everyone on your gift list this holiday at Amazon Smile and Amazon donates to Upward for Children and Families.

Programs
Brown & Brown Cooks for Kids - UPWARD For Children & Families

Brown & Brown Cooks for Kids < Return to News

On October 13, 2017, a small team of volunteers from our Brown & Brown Insurance office came to be a part of the “Cook for Kids” program at Upward…  It was an amazing experience.   Our task was to provide and serve lunch to the kids and staff of Upward.   We came, we saw, we served and we were blown away with the mission of Upward in our community.   It is easy to identify a need… but Upward excels in that they truly fulfill their mission of giving education, therapy and love to special kids.
There are a lot of charitable organizations in our city, but Upward stands alone in the quality of their staff, the purity of their support and their singular focus on helping a precious segment of our community.
I guarantee we will be back to Upward again and again.
            Bruce Kindall           
            Brown & Brown Insurance, Phoenix,
            Vice President, Employee Benefits

Programs