The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy. Despite being one of the most common chromosomal disorders in the country—occurring in 1 out of every 691 births—Down syndrome receives exceptionally low funding compared to other genetic conditions. The foundation helps to make up for the shortfall by hosting fundraisers and conferences, advocating for public policy that benefits those with Down syndrome, and providing programming that allows individuals living with the condition to develop their talents and abilities.
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In 1986, Toni Schmid and Kathy Carfrae were interning at homeless shelters in the area as part of their studies at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. They observed homeless women leaving the safety of the shelters each morning with nowhere to go but back to the streets. Believing that these women should have a safe place to spend their days, Toni and Kathy used a $6,000 donation to form The Gathering Place in a one-room facility on Santa Fe Drive. It quickly became a regular daytime drop-in center for women, their children, and transgender individuals who were experiencing episodic or chronic homelessness. At its inception, The Gathering Place served 25–35 women each day; today, it serves approximately 275 women and children daily in its state-of-the-art, 28,000-square-foot facility.
The Gathering Place's programs contribute to personal growth with GED training, a computer lab that hosts skills classes, and a writers' group that facilitates creative expression. It also works to meet basic needs ranging from providing nutritious food to making showers and laundry services available. The housing stabilization program helps women achieve and maintain self-sufficiency with rent and utilities support, transportation assistance, and job training.
Agates, amethysts, and luminous glass beads come alive in the settings that The Colorado Bead Company’s jewelry instructors help students design— elegant yet whimsical loops of wire, antique-looking chains, earring hoops that recall delicate dreamcatchers. Classes bring out the jewelry artist in kids, adults, and even first-time crafters who get to experience the thrill of walking out clad in the necklaces they've just designed. The shop glistens with strands and packets of such exotic baubles as freshwater pearls, hypoallergenic beads, and Swarovski crystal beads, ready to be incorporated into a new project or used to make a pair of maracas sound classier. Shoppers browse in a bright, open space lined with huge windows, hardwood floors, and airy flower prints.
Smart-Girl, Inc. teaches girls the skills they need to become confident and successful young women. It conducts school programs and leadership camp sessions that tackle difficult issues such as bullying and self-destructive behaviors. During the programs, small groups of girls gather with two high-school- or college-aged guides for activities that promote self-confidence. Lessons on leadership, gender stereotypes, critical thinking, and body image and the media are designed to help participants develop socially and emotionally. The girls can also make friends while creating crafts or listening to music at summer-camp sessions.
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Steve and Kim Weiner take pride in their ability to mesh medical-grade wellness treatments with a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. The co-owners began their careers as an aesthetic equipment salesman and a paramedical aesthetician respectively, giving them extensive professional insight into the role that technology can play in rejuvenating clients? appearances. Their spa embraces some of these technologically based treatments, including infrared body wraps, teeth whitening and hair removal with cosmetic laser systems, and lipotron skin-tightening sessions, which use radio frequencies to firm skin tone and broadcast warning messages to crow?s-feet. The center also offers basic spa treatments, such as massages and deep-cleansing facials.
Art from Ashes (AfA) promotes artistic expression among youth in the care of human services and homeless shelters as well as those dealing with abuse and poverty. Working with local organizations, AfA sponsors poetry and theater workshops for youth aged 8–24, prompting them to tap into their imaginations and create art that reflects their inner strength and the issues they have overcome. The organization’s Phoenix Rising poetry-and-spoken-word program uses words to encourage inner development and help young people connect with their communities, and its Casting Shadows theater-and-play program helps youth express their feelings in a healthy way through dramatic performance. These programs are designed to provide ongoing tools for artistic expression and engage youth in the social sphere, encouraging them to facilitate change in their communities.