By Jennifer Schwegman
Photos Courtesy of One Step Beyond, Inc.
Believing her daughter, Dylan, should have post-high school opportunities to contribute to the community and achieve her personal goals, Mimi Rogers—a former teacher—went into action.
In 2003, she started One Step Beyond, Inc. (OSBI), with a vision of providing innovative programs that empower adults who have intellectual disabilities, like her daughter, to be independent, to seek and maintain employment and achieve greater social participation in their communities.
“Mimi started the program with 16 participants in a small Phoenix neighborhood location,” says One Step Beyond CEO Madison Blanton. “Today, we’re the Valley’s largest provider of advanced education programs for adults who have intellectual and cognitive disabilities, serving more than 500 individuals at four Phoenix metro locations.”
Each One Step Beyond campus includes a fully equipped music room, art studio, commercial kitchen, fitness center, and four large classrooms for individualized instruction.
“The amenities at OSBI are unmatched and enable us to provide one-of-a-kind programs unavailable anywhere else,” says Blanton. “For instance, our culinary training programs take place in a real commercial kitchen where we provide food-industry training with an emphasis on customer service, healthy dietary planning, food preparation, and proper sanitation skills that equip our participants with the necessary skills to seek employment in the food industry.”
The culinary program also includes a catering business that can provide lunch service and catering to local businesses, or even take-home meals for nightly family dinners. Information and menus are available on the One Step Beyond website.
One Step Beyond’s life skills programs help members strengthen independent living skills, with an emphasis on money management, functional literacy, social skills, and safe community access.
Employment programs provide training and volunteer opportunities for self-reliance that lead to competitive or supported employment.
OSBI recreation and fine arts programs provide music, art, dance and fitness with an emphasis on personal wellness.
Music students have the opportunity to work with some of the best in the business, performing in front of large crowds and recording with A-list producers.
According to Theresa Robinette, whose son Eric attends daily programming at OSBI, “My son was struggling but his language and communication skills have skyrocketed. He now loves singing in front of an audience and, when he sang an entire four-minute Ed Sheeran song at the last One Step Beyond music performance, I cried.”
OSBI also has the first and only campus-based day training program that has a special needs hockey team, The One Step Coyotes who just started their fifth season in November.
OSBI’s formal partnership with Special Olympics enables more than 300 OSBI athletes to participate in year-round sports training and tournament participation.
Unlike other campus-based day training programs, OSBI partners with its members and their families to identify and provide innovative, individualized, and comprehensive educational, employment, life skills and transitional services. If a desired program isn’t currently offered, the team finds a way to make it happen.
“One Step Beyond gives our participants a voice,” says Blanton. “It’s not up to us to decide what opportunities to provide so we rely on our participants to provide that feedback.”
One Step Beyond’s staff is comprised of professionals whose mission to better the lives of adults who have intellectual disabilities. The organization’s annual Help Us Grow campaign provides a vehicle for individuals and local businesses to support the effort.
Individuals interested in supporting the Help Us Grow campaign and the One Step Beyond mission can make a monetary donation by visiting the One Step Beyond website at osbi.org.
Local businesses interested in offering hiring opportunities for individuals who have intellectual disabilities can learn more by visiting the One Step Beyond website or contacting Vocational Director Vonn Towns at 623-215-2449.
OSBI is also a qualifying agency for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit where a gift of up to $400 (single filers) or up to $800 (filing jointly) can reduce state tax liability by the same amount.
For more information, visit osbi.org.