Life Without Limits at UCP
Like any young woman, Jessi Salinas (pictured on page 60 far left) enjoys being with her friends. It’s easy to see that her confidence is blooming as her independence grows. Jessi likes working, and she’s eager to learn on the job. She has gained employment skills, but that’s not all.
Jessi has cerebral palsy, and her time at United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona’s (UCP) Café without Limits, which is an expansion of UCP’s workforce training program, is providing her with retail training and customer service interaction. Her bright smile is telling; she is developing self-assurance and pride in her work, and the strides she is making are meaningful for her and for her family.
Jessi attends the Day Treatment for Adults program and also receives home and community-based services through UCP. Jessi’s mother is moved by her daughter’s growth. “She came home after an outing to a pizza place and told us that she looked someone (a boy) in the eye and smiled,” she says. “That was amazing for her! She normally avoids eye contact with strangers. Jessi has also become more independent. I don’t have to worry as much about how she is doing.”
When a child is born with a disability, parents want possibilities; they need hope. They want to provide a life without limits, and they want to know that their child can experience happiness and confidence. Since 1952, UCP has been committed to ensuring a life without limits for people with disabilities.
Each year, UCP is nurturing potential and creating opportunities for over 7,000 children and adults with disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, developmental delays and learning disabilities. UCP provides therapies, life skills, independent living services, innovative social outlets, and inclusive and integrated educational-based programs. UCP is also a valuable resource for families addressing the needs of those with disabilities by providing services in the areas of:
• Day Treatment and Training for adults
• Day Treatment and Training for children
• An Early Learning Center
• Home and Community-Based Services
• Information and Referrals
“We continue to prove that, with proper understanding, loving support, and the commitment of many people working as one, the possibilities are endless,” says CEO Armando A. Contreras. “Together, we can continue to provide comprehensive services to individuals with various disabilities and their families.”
Dedicated employees like program lead Melinda Montoya are making a difference. “I have been working at UCP for almost 10 years,” she says. “I am very blessed that I have been able to work for United Cerebral Palsy.
“I have grown so much here. The consumers I have worked with through the years have taught me more than I could ever teach them. I have experienced watching a young child whose disabilities brought on barriers, and then I have been blessed so much to have seen that child break those barriers and do things no one thought they could do.”
UCP’s Early Learning Center: Inclusive, Engaging, Stimulating
The Early Learning Center (ELC) is a high-quality, developmentally appropriate educational environment serving children ages six weeks to five years with and without disabilities, their families, and the community. The ELC prepares the whole child, mentally and physically, for school. The center has low staff-to-children ratios to allow children to be engaged in learning opportunities and growth in age-appropriate groups: infants, toddlers, two-year-olds, and preschool.
What sets the Early Learning Center apart is not only the high standard of care, but the inclusive environment of typical and special needs children that fosters social acceptance and tolerance at an early age.
Scholarships Available for Day Treatment and Training
Scholarships are currently available for the UCP Day Treatment and Training for Children’s (DTT) after-school and summer programs, including transportation services. DTT serves special needs children ages 3-22. Scholarship requirements are that: 1) children must have a disability and will benefit from the program; 2) they have been denied Title XIX services and/or they have been denied funding by the Division of Developmental Disabilities; 3) they must be attending preschool, elementary school, junior high or high school; 4) transportation services (for those who need it) must fall within UCP’s designated boundaries.
Children in the program have conditions and disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. DTT also serves children with traumatic brain injuries, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. DTT engages children through interaction, games, social outings, and questions.
If you or someone you know is interested in DTT services, please contact UCP and reference this article in the community update section: 1-866-943-5472
UCP currently has scholarships available for DTT’s after-school and summer program for eligible special needs students from age 3 up to 22 years. UCP even provides transportation services to and from the program within their designated boundaries.
Becoming involved with UCP, either as a donor or as a volunteer or employee, is incredibly rewarding. Every day, UCP is making a very real difference in the lives of adults and children with disabilities.
For over 30 years, Circle K has been an invaluable source of support, collecting millions of dollars in spare change for UCP in every Circle K in the valley. Please consider dropping your spare change in the canister by the counter the next time you’re in your neighborhood Circle K. 100 percent of change collected goes directly to UCP. You can also donate to UCP online at www.ucpofcentralaz.org. Contributions qualify for the Arizona Working Poor tax credit program.
The UCP volunteer program enhances the lives of families and people with disabilities. Volunteers impact the well-being of the children and adults they serve, share their talents and become advocates for those with disabilities. Email for more information.
“Working at UCP is being a part of more than just a company that serves consumers with disabilities,” says Montoya. “It is being a part of something bigger. We have the privilege of changing lives, but in the end we have the privilege of our lives being changed and for the better.”