Past STEPS Initiatives

Be Safe

In November 2017, TJ became a certified instructor of ‘Be Safe’, a curriculum and movie that teaches teens and adults how to have safer interactions with police. Developed by a parent and educator, Be Safe, uses vides scenes, games and role playing to give our participants the tools they need to ensure their safety. We had our first Be Safe day in January 2018 and had a great time watching, playing games and practicing our new skills. Staff continue to use this tool to reinforce the lessons we learned.

Down Syndrome and Dementia

STEPS Coordinator, TJ, attended a two day training (I-AADAPT), teaching us how to recognize signs of dementia (and other illnesses that mimic those signs), in order to be better health advocates about dementia with doctors, and to better serve our participants with dementia. The focus was primarily on Alzheimer’s and individuals with Down syndrome because these individuals are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s at an earlier age than their peers.

Eight of our participants (age 27+ with Down Syndrome) have finished the cycling study with ASU’s Department of Kinesiology and the wonderful lead researcher Nate Arnold. We are awaiting the results; the study is seeking to prove that exercising (independently or on a motorized stationary bike) helps individuals to retain cognitive skills as they age.

Future Planning Tool

In December 2017, TJ attended a training about ‘Future Planning’. The ARC received a national grant to develop an online Future Planning tool for families. This site helps individuals and families to discuss and plan for the time when caregivers are no longer able to assist their family member. The site helps with financial planning as well as developing plans that give the individual a voice in where he/she will live after his/her family caregiver has left the earthly plane. It’s a great website and a fabulous tool.

Many of our participants have a desire to talk about what they want to happen when they pass or when their caregivers pass (We have had a few deaths of close friends and family this last year that have many of our participants thinking about the future). TJ is holding a small class with a few of these interested individuals to talk and write down their wishes.

Tai Chi Sessions

June 2018 will mark 2 years of 12-18 of us doing a short Mindfulness mediation every morning at ARCH! So we have recently added Tai Chi too to our class roster. Tai Chi is a low impact form of exercise that can reduce stress, improve balance and reduce falls for many people. So if you see participants waving their hands around, they're probably just practicing.


The Spina Bifida Association of Arizona recently received a grant to have a 12 week intensive self-advocacy class and four ARCH participants were accepted into the program. Other participants said they were interested in the topic so TJ is developing and teaching an 8-10 week course on self-determination and self-advocacy. At ARCH we are talking about how our needs, wants, preferences and values affect our decision making. We are also talking about ‘making choices’ and ‘large decision making processes’. We are also learning about “Person Centered Planning,” our rights and responsibilities, our learning styles and how to communicate our goals to our support teams. And we are talking about how to get involved in self advocacy groups. (After TJ is finished tweaking this class she hopes to share it with other organizations).