PUP Event: Valentine’s Dance


Daytona Night was a huge success. The January 10th event saw participants racing radio controlled cars on three separate tracks.

The February event is a Valentine Dance. Come out, enjoy the music, dancing and snacks.

Details are on the attached event flyer.

Add the 2020 events dates to your calendars, planners and phones. The events dates are located in the “Calendar Tab”. Don’t miss a single PUP event!

Leap Year!


Leap year! For such a short month February has packed a lot into its 29 days this year. Two events jump out because they go hand in hand- American Heart Month and Valentines Day. Whomever you choose to share your heart with, remember to include those heart healthy treats to let your sweetie know you want them around for years to come. Black History is celebrated this month. Take time to read authors who have written so beautifully about the struggles and accomplishments, the day to day life and the ambitions that have led to inventions and honors. If you’re in the mood for weird and wacky throw a Mardi Gras party. Local grocery stores generally have King cakes available and everyone enjoys the beads and boas.

A couple more unique dates in February:
9th-Stop Bullying campaign begins 11th- Make a friend day 17th- Shrove Tuesday ( pancake day!) Don’t forget to watch for the groundhog, cheer for your favorite Super Bowl team, and celebrate the memory of Abraham Lincoln. We are an amazing country full of unique and amazing people. February represents just a few of these. Take the time to pay homage to our rich history.

A couple of ideas for fun art projects this month. The paint department of the big box stores offer a great idea for bookmarks. Those paint color strips and a heart shaped hole punch make great Valentine gifts. The paint strips are generally free, but if you plan on taking multiples just ask- they will dip into their supply closet for you.

Contact paper- sticky side up is a wonderful background for creating a free form picture. Use yarn, foam pieces, toothpicks, craft sticks, cotton balls, scraps of paper and fabric. Everything can be repositioned and strips of paper can be used to look like a frame around the edge.

One last idea: pre-cut heart shaped pieces of wax paper- different sizes- make a crease down the center. Using a cheese grater, shred crayons. Sprinkle the shredded pieces on the inside of the wax heart. Fold along the crease, place in between pieces of newspaper ( it absorbs the oil from the crayons) and heat with a warm iron. The result is a delicate sun catcher or, strung together, a pretty garland.

May the groundhog predict Spring, may your favorite team win, may you make a new friend and above all- bless your heart ❤️

Guest Editor: Ryan LaCosse – Best Buddies


What is Best Buddies?

First of all, I want to say thank you for allowing me to become a part of your world over the last 10 years in Peoria! My time spent at Jamieson School and the PwUP parties lead me to a very amazing point in my life… I am now the Area Director for Best Buddies in Central Illinois!!!!

So, what is Best Buddies? Best Buddies is all about inclusion and friendship opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities! This process starts in elementary schools, in which we are in the process of growing in central Illinois! As our friends/family with IDD become teenagers and adults, we match them with a peer buddy! This isn’t a mentorship, this is a one-to-one friendship! It’s building meaningful friendships between people with and without IDD. This includes going to Chiefs/Rivermen games, going to lunch, hanging out and enjoying someone else’s company! We even offer e-Buddies, an email program, in which a participant with IDD communicates online with a friend without IDD.

Then, when a person with IDD graduates from HS or College, we can help them find integrated and competitive employment! We aren’t talking about doing dishes or taking out the trash. We are talking about employment opportunities that allow people with IDD to earn an income, pay taxes, and continuously and independently support themselves! We provide training, not only to the buddy looking for work but also to the workplace to make sure they understand the uniqueness of their new hire. We also keep in contact with the employer and employee throughout the entire duration of employment to make sure that each company/buddy can be successful. 81% of adults with IDD do not have a paid job in the community. We are here to change that in 2020!

We also provide leadership training! Best Buddies educates and empowers people with and without IDD to become leaders, public speakers and advocates through our Ambassadors and Promoters programs! We are in the process of planning events for Citizens opportunities and Jobs for early 2020! Plus, we have our Friendship Walk, April 25th, at the Corn Crib in Normal!

For more information on jobs, email SunnyOlsen@bestbuddies.org! To have Best Buddies in your school, email RebeccaImpens@bestbuddies.org. And for general info, details on the Friendship Walk, or maybe you want to get involved with Best Buddies, email me RyanLaCosse@bestbuddies.org!

January Reporter: Happy New Years


Welcome  New Year 2020!  Take a moment to look at the dates shown on the “Calendar Tab”.

Add the dates to your calendar, planner or phone.  Don’t miss a single PUP Event this year!

Part of PUP’s mission is to provide helpful information pertaining to special needs individuals.

We will occasionally invite a guest editor.  Ryan LaCosse, the new Area Director for Best Buddies, is this month’s guest editor.

October Reporter


Thanks to all of you that came out to Blue Ridge Farm for our annual Square Dance and Potluck.  A huge crowd visited the Farm’s animals, ate loads of good food and square danced outside.

This month PUP will have a Halloween Party on October 11.  See the attached event flyer.

Join us for an evening of fun for dancing with the DJ, Scary Joe sandwiches and Trick or Treating.

Next month is the Craft and Vendor Sale.  Save the date: November 16 from 9 to 3.

Fabulous Fall


Fabulous Fall- Welcome Y’all !

Is there a more perfect month of the year? Beautiful Fall colors, sweater weather, football, camp fires, apple cider, pumpkin everything, and so any days worthy of celebration.

Farmers and their animals, police and firemen, world wide teachers- let’s just call our theme this month Community Helpers.

Oct 2-12th is our time to explore all things farm.  From the “work animals” that used to plow the fields, to the animals who provide the income, meat, dairy,  hides and wool.   Farmers bring their work to our tables  everyday whether it’s food grown in the ground or animals raised for food.  Take the time to follow the footsteps a farmer takes from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.  And remember when you give thanks for your meal, give thanks for the farmers who brought it to us as well.

World Teacher’s day is Oct 5.  Just take a few minutes to think about/talk about this amazing profession- not just locally, not just nationally, but around the world. Remember that whatever you are doing to educate young people, there are millions of teachers and instructors doing the exact same thing everywhere.  Special needs is not unique to our country.  Somewhere there is a staff in the basement of a church in another country experiencing the exact same struggles and joys you know.  Belouga is a global network for connecting classrooms and teachers. Bring the world into your little corner.

Next up this month is Fire Prevention and Adopt a Cop.  As educators we practice fire drills and teach our students to recognize police by uniform/cars.  Take the time this month to inspect your classroom and storage areas (and your homes) for potential fire hazards. Firemen and police love to visit classrooms and you can facilitate a mock drill to help them better understand the needs of your students in an emergency.
Invite a Community Helper to lunch, to sit and draw with your students, to read a book with your class.  Your turn to educate them about your students.

Yes, yes- Columbus Day and Sweetest Day and Halloween are all October celebrations.
So, let’s celebrate chocolate!   Columbus brought spices from other parts of the world, including cocoa, that eventually became part of the delicious sweet chocolate treats that we offer to our sweetie on Sweetest Day, and that have become the reward for hours of decoration and costume planning
for Fall’s favorite fun day- Halloween 🎃.
Lose yourself in the childlike excitement of all things Fall- and stock up on chocolate when no one looks twice at you for having a cart full!!

September is a time of transition


September is a transitional month. Almost Fall, but not quite. Temps are changing, but not quite. Colors are starting to turn, but not quite. Kids are back in school, but – well, you know.

Labor Day is early this year. As we celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of workers in America and how they helped make our country strong and successful, let’s remind our kids that every job- big or small-carries pride and value. A professor once instructed our class of would be teachers that the two most important people in any school are the custodian and the cook. A shopping trip in Peoria will find many of our students working. Restaurants, pet shelters, car wash, housekeeping, volunteers-all necessary and viable jobs where we will find special needs adults contributing to their community. Celebrate all workers!

Maybe I’m the only one old enough to remember square dancing being taught in PE class, but September is National Square Dance month. What a fun way to get kids up and moving to a different kind of music. Add a couple bales of hay, some fresh picked apples and a homemade scarecrow and you have two weeks worth of activities.

Don’t forget that Grandparent’s day is September 10. Thank Jimmy Carter for that. First Sunday after Labor Day for those of us who never are sure whether our calendar is right or Hallmark.

I came across a different art activity involving rice. Using ziplock baggies add 4 or 5 drops of food coloring to a teaspoon of alcohol. Then add one cup of uncooked rice and shake it until the color is evenly distributed. Spread out the rice on a cookie sheet to let it dry (or outside in the sun if it isn’t windy). Use the different colored rice to make a picture by gluing it to paper.

Lastly we celebrate Deaf Awareness this month. Try a couple games that require visual skills only. Twister, charades, matching games. Practice your signing skills by letting a student show you how.

September Reporter: August Carnival and Future Events


Thanks to all who attended the August Carnival event. There were many games and activities including face painting, a balloon man and fishing.

Some Super Heroes made a special appearance. Walking tacos and nachos were served.

Big news for the September event at Blue Ridge Farm. The date is SATURDAY, September 14th from 4 to 7 PM. Come out and visit the animals at 4 PM.

Save the Date: PUP Craft/Vendor Sale is Saturday, November 16. Lots of crafters and vendors will be there.

Food is available.

Reporter: Christmas Party


People with Unlimited Potential held their annual Christmas Party

on December 14 at Living Waters Church in Peoria, Illinois.

Cookies and snacks were served.  Santa also made a guest appearance.

Each person present had a picture taken with Santa.  Katie Fitch, music therapist, played her guitar and led singing Christmas songs and carols.

Join PUP next month on January 11 at 6 PM for a “Hip Hop Sock Hop”.

Mark your calendar today!  There is no charge for PUP Events.

December: Holidays gifts, giving and ideas


December is upon us. My Christmas wish for all of us is a stress free, enjoyable time with family and friends. This year as you get ready for the holidays take a few minutes to find those items that might not get used at your house, but would be greatly appreciated by local charities, Dream Center, and homeless shelters. If you donate food to one of the local drives, try including a simple, favorite recipe- then buy those items needed to prepare it. When packaged together it provides food and also passes along a new idea for dinner. If your child has a favorite recipe, this is a good way to get them involved in the process and help you put baskets together for others.

We all love cookies so why not get students involved in their own cookie exchange? It’s a great social activity, age appropriate and everyone goes home with new and special treats. You might want to try making homemade butter with the family. A glass jar with a good lid, a cup of heavy cream and 20 minutes of shaking the jar yields soft, fluffy butter. Sweeten, salt or season to taste. To make it decorative, lightly spray a cookie cutter mold and fill it with the soft butter. Allow it to set up in the refrigerator for a couple hours. It will easily release from the mold.

Family and friends may ask for ideas for our special needs friends. Buying gifts for a teen or adult can be challenging. This year Target is carrying weighted blankets. This is a great gift for anyone any age with sensory issues. The weight helps promote a feeling of calm and security. Melissa and Doug puzzles come in multi- sensory options- lighting up, playing music or making the picture appropriate sound when completed correctly. Kinetic sand is indoor friendly and provides tactile stimulation. Magna-tiles come in rectangular, triangular and square shapes. Students can build horizontally or vertically with these and they don’t fall over as easily. If you’re looking for books, several places are carrying the book sets that have a sound board included. Students can match the color of the book to the tile on the sound board and it will read the story to them page by page.

Happy holidays to all of you-

Craft and Vendor Sale


Come on out to the PUP Craft and Vendor Sale on Saturday, November 17th.

Come on out and check a great variety of crafters and vendors. Do some shopping

for yourself and your family and support PUP. There are only 55 shopping days until Christmas!

Enjoy a light breakfast or have lunch.

craft-and-vendor-sale

Craft and Vendor Sale

November: Opportunities to Celebrate


Welcome November! A busy month with so many opportunities to celebrate. Remember this is the month that our time changes- the only time during the year when we get to live the same hour twice. Make that hour count.

Veterans Day and voting are opportunities to include the whole family in a project. Provide pictures of service men and women while you and your family put together a care package to be sent to our troops. A note, a picture to say thank you for their bravery and service is one way to start our season of Thanksgiving.

If you would like to introduce your students to the idea of voting, some simple ideas to do at home work very well. Make a ballot box out of an old shoe box. Use index cards as ballots. You can vote on who does what chore, where to eat, what’s for dessert, a favorite song. All good ways to include vocabulary words that can be reused month after month.

As Thanksgiving gets closer and you start your meal planning, remember to involve your students in this process. Make a menu in which your child can participate. Whether it’s words or pictures ( remember canned and boxed food labels provide good pictures) it’s a great way to increase sight vocabulary. Practice setting the table- even if it’s only adding the napkins, counting can be part of the process. Kids can be responsible for making place cards by adding stickers or pictures to an index card. If your child can participate in food preparation, nothing is better than measuring, and following step by step directions. Pumpkin spice instant pudding is easy and seasonally appropriate. Allowing them to take potatoes from boiled to mashed is a fun activity and an easy way to involve them in the meal. An old hand-masher is a great way to start.

If your family offers prayers at dinner time, remember to include the service men and women that you made the care package for and tie your month long activities together.

The library has many Thanksgiving books for kids. After your meal is over, before everyone finds a TV to watch football, take a few minutes to read a book aloud at the table. A nice way to end your time together.

October


October is a perfect month for students to experience all things sensory- including sensory overload. Let’s look at a couple of triggers and what to watch for.

Fall leaves are beautiful, but for some students the change from the sweetness and softness of summer to the crunch of Fall can be a trigger. Remember to talk about what changes we will see — the different colors and feel of leaves, dried corn stalks, pumpkins, scarecrows, etc. Piles of leaves, while tempting for jumping, can trigger an over-stim reaction. For some, that earthy smell and crunchy feel can cause an overwhelming feeling. All things in moderation can help reduce that feeling.

As Halloween approaches, remember that not all students feel comfortable in a costume- especially a mask. Some students are overwhelmed by the sight of so many people in costumes. Pull out those old Halloween pictures from years past to remind your student of what’s to come. Allow them to help select decorations that please them. Not all things Halloween have to be scary.

Last but not least, candy. Remember to provide some choices that limit the amount of sugar, dyes and preservatives. Watch your student for signs of sensory overload. This can look like a meltdown, withdrawal, agitation or an inability to calm down. If you think your student’s behavior is related to sensory overload, find a quiet place that is sensory neutral or familiar. Some parents have found that the smell of lavender or orange- in small doses- may be soothing.

Enjoy, but prepare. All things in moderation.

News and Events


PUP celebrated the arrival of Fall by having a Potluck and Square Dance at Blue Ridge Farm, West of Chillicothe on September 14th.  One hundred eighty people joined us.  Grilled hot dogs were the main event along with lots of side dishes.

The evening was topped off with a lively Square Dance.

The next PUP event is a Halloween Party on on October 12th.  Scary slopy joes, monster donuts and drinks will be served.  Join us for music, Witches Brew and Trick or Treating.

Please bring a bag of your favorite treat to share.  Costumes are optional.

SAVE the DATE- Craft and Vendor Sale on November 17 from 9am to 3pm at Living Waters Church in Peoria.  Breakfast and lunch will be served.

Come on out and support individuals with special needs.

You Are Not Alone. Join Us.


Sometimes it feels like you’re going it alone when you have a family member with special needs. But it doesn’t have to be that way – at least not all the time. In fact, there are a number of opportunities in the central Illinois area to connect you with other families who share your challenges and joys.

Sometimes it’s helpful just to know your family member has a fun activity to allow him/her some experiences with peers and allow you that much needed down time. Sometimes, it’s helpful to do things together. During the next few weeks and months, we will share with you some of those opportunities – some for your family member, some for you, and some for both.

First, we want to extend an invitation to each of you to attend the monthly PUP social event – even if you haven’t participated in the past. Many parents and families are finding this to be a great time to connect with others. Events include activities like a day at Camp Big Sky, a Valentines dance, and a Christmas party with Santa. We usually meet at Living Waters Church on North Knoxville in Peoria, however, the location can change depending on the particular event. So, now would be a good time to be sure you are on the mailing list so you can plan to join us. Send your email address through the Contact Us form.

We would love to have you join us!

Welcome to the People with Unlimited Potential (PUP) website.


Our website is ready to serve you by providing information about PUP events and special activities.

The News tab has monthly news of activities and helpful information about topics pertaining to special needs individuals.

The Gallery tab will have photos from PUP events.

The Resource tab will be a comprehensive listing of resources and services available to special needs individuals in the Central Illinois area, and beyond.

Be sure to visit our Craft and Vendor Sale on November 19th from 9:00 to 2:00. Check our Calendar for further details. Pancakes and sausage will be served.