JFS Perspectives

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stephani Baca—Operating at Maximum Potential

Stephani Baca—Operating at Maximum Potential

Stephani Baca may have Down syndrome, but it’s not keeping her from living a rich, full life. She has dozens of friends and enjoys going to SHALOM Denver every week and engaging in a variety of activities that keep her active and engaged.

Stephani recently celebrated her fiftieth birthday, but you wouldn’t know it. She has boundless energy and a big bright smile that lights every room.

She started coming to SHALOM Denver 20 years ago, where she worked on assembly and packaging projects for various business clients. She later transitioned to the Arts and Community Exploration (ACE) program which offers her recreational and arts and crafts activities. She’s been attending this program for the past 10 years—and loves it.

The ACE program is a people-centered interactive day program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It focuses on the whole person, community involvement, and integration into the greater community with stimulating activities tailored to each participant’s needs and unique personality. The richness of different cultures is celebrated through crafts, foods, literature, history, and art.

“We work to tap into the natural creative and artistic talents of the clients we serve,” says Heather Dawson, ACE program manager at SHALOM Denver.

“There is a lot of satisfaction in helping our clients discover what they can create and do.”

SHALOM Denver’s ACE program promotes education of healthy lifestyles, focusing on good nutrition and frequent exercise. Open expression of feelings is encouraged, resulting in the development of healthy relationships. Participants explore the community at cultural and art centers, parks, libraries, shopping centers, and museums. They also enjoy helping others by volunteering, recycling, and donating time and money to our community.

THE ACE program is an important part of Stephani’s life. It gives her purpose and a real sense of normalcy. It gives her some independence away from family where she can live her own life and form her own relationships. She looks forward to interacting with others and seeing her many friends who attend the program.

Stephani attends the ACE program three days a week. She loves all the activities, but especially dancing and working on arts and crafts projects. Every week the family’s mantel proudly displays Stephani’s latest creations, including drawings, paintings, collages, and crafts. “We have to clear our mantel every weekend to make room for the next batch of crafts,” says Robert. “We enjoy seeing her colorful work come home and her sense of pride in creating it.”

“Stephani loves to dance and she’s getting the exercise she needs,” says Margaret, Stephani’s mother.

The ACE program gives Robert and Margaret some needed respite and freedom to take care of themselves and their home. “Having Stephani at home is wonderful,” says Robert. “But it’s also a full-time job. The ACE program gives us some time to ourselves and the opportunity to run errands and take care of the day-to-day tasks we need to get done. We’re now in our seventies and still acting as Stephani’s primary caregivers. Not only is the program great for Stephani, it really helps us out.”

SHALOM Denver’s ACE program is giving Stephani access to new experiences and people she wouldn’t have otherwise. “As a result, she has become very comfortable with people and has a wider view of the world,” says Margaret. “SHALOM Denver is truly maximizing her potential and for that we are very grateful.”

META DESCRIPTION: Learn how SHALOM Denver is helping Stephani Baca, a 50-year-old with Down syndrome, live a rich, full life.