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What is STEP-UP?

The STEP-UP (Socialization Through Exciting Partnerships UP-lifts)
program is for young people with Intellectual and/or Developmental
Disabilities (IDD) on the cusp of adolescence, which is a critical stage
of the lifespan. The STEP-UP program incorporates a peer education
model through a variety of recreation experiences.

While not all youth experience social-emotional growth equally,
disproportionately more young people with IDD are prone to behavior
challenges than their typically developing peers. Understandably,
young people with IDD desire to have developmental experiences and
social opportunities similar to their typically developing peers.

Struggles are heightened during pre-adolescence, which makes it more difficult to participate in social activities with typically developing peers and can result in negative health/wellbeing outcomes like stress and loneliness. 


Since peers can be part of the most important social relationships in a youngster’s life, the STEP-UP program uses a peer education model, which involves learning through activities with similar age peers who may or may not have an IDD diagnosis. Children learn best from experiences with their peers. Therefore, the goals of this program focus on enhancing social skills development activities, fostering collaborative teamwork exercises, and promoting natural opportunities for fun in building friendships.

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This program is supported by grant funding from the NJ Department of Children and Families/Children’s System of Care, Tri-County CMO.

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