UCP of Central Arizona is such a multi-faceted organization that it seems impossible to convey all the wonderful work that our teams of providers and members do every day. So, check back regularly as we try to capture everything we do, one post at a time!
The goal of everything we do here at UCP is ability.
We think of ability in simple terms: possessing the means or skills to do a certain something, anything: pick up a cup, say ‘I love you’, run a mile. Ability has a fast in varying range between individuals and within individuals, making each person’s journey different. Our mission at UCP is to ensure that every one of our members has the opportunity to do the things they want to do, whatever that may be, regardless of what level of ability they are starting with.
Which brings us to disability; a word that is a bit of a misnomer.
Our members with disabilities are not dis-abled but rather differently abled.
One child may be working hard to land a jump on the ice ring while another of the same age struggles to take a step. Both must work hard and both will need help. What matters is how hard you’re willing to work to get where they want to be. At UCP, we see our children and adults pushing themselves to test the limits of their abilities, and in doing so, push themselves farther and learn to do more.
For Zach, it was a long journey. When he came to UCP at five years of age, his mother was seeking a new occupational therapist because he “hated” therapies and was crying during sessions. Zach had cerebral palsy with severe motor planning issues. He was also smart and he knew everything about Star Wars. The best thing about Zach is that he had a great sense of humor. He knew when he couldn’t plan the movements of simple tasks and quickly became frustrated, wanting to quit. Humor along with his great imagination fueled by Star Wars was the key to Zach’s willingness to participate in therapies. His therapist became the master Jedi and the therapy clinic was a starship. Learning basic skills like dressing and tying shoes were part of what he learned as a Padawan who was a Jedi in Training. Zach still became easily defeated because he knew he never would be able to play soccer well like his friends. Even with adaptions, he struggled at school because he didn’t have the motor ability to form the numbers when doing timedtests. Adaptive equipment was necessary for things that his friends did easily. One day when Zach was nine years old, he seemed reflective and didn’t want to talk about Star Wars. As he walked on the sidewalk to the therapy clinic from the parent waiting room, he seemed to be reflecting on his journey with his occupational therapist but she wasn’t certain. “You know this is a long path that we are walking. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to walk it but I’m able to do it.” “Yes Zach it has been a long path but you are doing it,” his therapist responded.
And that is the crux of our mission at UCP. No one should be deprived of that immense satisfaction, that deeply-rooted joy of achieving a goal. That joy is plain to see on the face of ourchildren and adults there is no call when we see them run and write and paint, cook and converse and laugh, when they truly experience all that their body is capable of. And nothing brings more joy to those of us lucky enough to be a part of their journey.