Last Memorial Day, I had the opportunity to join the LiveUp family as the program photographer. While coworkers and friends were planning long weekends to the beach, I was packing to spend the weekend with LiveUp, and I was so excited because I knew I would be spending the time with an amazing group of people.
As the photographer, I had an opportunity to see LiveUp from the outside (well, through the lens of my camera) and even though the weekend begins with many new faces, by closing ceremony, it’s like we’ve known each other for years. It’s almost unbelievable how quickly these bonds form, and it seemed like no one was really ready to say goodbye. I witnessed firsthand the passion of the volunteers. I watched staff make a congo line and chant “Broccoli! Broccoli! Broccoli!” in an attempt to convince a participant to eat healthy food at dinner. I saw men and women in their mid-twenties bring back the Macarena and rock out to the Backstreet Boys and Taylor Swift, because they knew it will make their participants happy. I watched everyone learn new things, whether it was practicing yoga, making hummus, or using a hammer. But beyond the cooking and the epic dance offs (and trust me, they were EPIC), I saw friendships form.
This year, I am the head of social media for LiveUp. Yup, that’s me that’s been tweeting, facebooking, and blogging. Its wonderful to be a part of this group and learn about everyone involved and what this program means to them. As I read through the posts by directors, founders, and participants, one theme jumped out at me: Community. This community of friends is nothing like I’ve seen before. It’s not just staff teaching participants…it’s participants teaching staff. And I wholeheartedly believe that every adult with Down syndrome should have an opportunity to belong to a tight knit community like this one. That’s why outside support is so important. It gives us the ability to provide scholarships for participants who need the financial assistance. It allows us to arrange transportation to our volunteer activity. And it ensures everyone has a fun, safe, and educational experience. I hope you enjoy meeting the different people who love this program and make it possible. And I hope you can support is any way you can, whether its financially or simply by helping us spread the word to get more people involved. I may not have gone to the Hamptons last Memorial Day, but I had an experience no beach can compare to.