A local Ahwatukee Foothills business that helps people with special needs is now offering an after-school program for high school students with disabilities.

Transitions for the Developmentally Disabled, an Ahwatukee Foothills care-giving agency for people with special needs, is working with the Arizona division of Developmental Disabilities to offer Transitions Liberty after-school program to Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high school students. The program is available to students with special needs from the age of 17, until graduation, and offers them the chance to learn about exercise, nutrition and health.

The after-school program is being hosted at Horizon Presbyterian Church, 1401 E. Liberty Lane, from 3:45 to 6:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and goes along with the Ahwatukee school calendar.

Dennis Karp, co-owner of Transitions, 17018 S. 26th St., said at the program students are offered a safe, comfortable and healthy situation where they have the opportunity to learn more about daily living and lifestyle for a person with special needs.

Pamela Karp, co-owner of Transitions, said the program was created because there was a need for it in the community.

"There's such a need over here in the Ahwatukee area," Karp said.

With this program, Dennis said students are offered an alternative to going home to an empty house, and are instead placed in a classroom setting with special education teacher Laura England, who is qualified to teach the students about making good, healthy choices for their life.

During the program, Karp said students will have the chance to go on tours of local fitness centers, like the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, as well as go on hikes, visit local parks, including Pecos Park, and also play games with one another, as well as learn about personal health and portion control.

"It's about making healthy choices," Dennis said.

The program currently has four students enrolled, and can hold up to eight people in each of its two rooms, Karp said. Once students are in the program they are provided with transportation from the school to the church, so parents do not have to pick them up and drive them there.

Karp said Transitions Liberty will continue through next semester, and into the 2011-2012 school year.

"As long as there is a need we'll be here," Karp said.

To learn more about Transitions Liberty, go to TransitionsAZ.org or call (480) 940-7915.


Chelsea Brown is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.

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