Babysitting Bridget

Being a fifteen year old girl, there are many things you can expect me to say about myself. I am a dedicated student and a competitive athlete. I love to spend time with my friends and family, I am super involved in my church’s high school youth group. I babysit on the weekends for money and blog for UCP to earn volunteer hours. Often when people ask further about my work here at UCP, they question how I became involved. And that is a story all its own.       -Ellie

I started babysitting for Caroline and Bridget Candy (pictured above) when I was in sixth grade. Normally when I babysit for them, Caroline, who is best friends with my younger sister Markie, ends up hanging out at my house, while I watch Bridget at their house. It may seem easy, but it is no simple task. See, Bridget Candy, the daughter of UCP-OC CEO Cathy Collins, has cerebral palsy, as well as autism. Being a sixth grader when I started with Bridget, I didn’t really know what I was doing or whether I was doing anything right. Bridget would cry when she saw me walk through the door because she knew that meant mommy was leaving. The only remedy to cease her tears was…Barney. Who would have known that a purple dinosaur would become a sixth grader’s dream come true!? Bridget and I would sit on the floor clapping and singing along to Barney songs. Other times when I would watch her, she would be in a great mood; we would get along well, read books, laugh at her toys and sing random songs. I would take her on walks around the neighborhood, giving her pieces of grass, flower petals, and leaves for her to carefully examine.

Throughout my adventures with Bridget, I have discovered she is a genius, really. Bridget studied the leaves, flowers and blades of grass with such patience and care that you might just mistake her for a little botanist. After our walks we end up at my house and sit on my bed, bounce up and down, and laugh just for fun. Simply put: She was happy!

Then there were the other times…these times usually came when she was sick or didn’t get much sleep. She would fuss and cry because mommy had to run errands. I’m not going to lie… I would get pretty scared during these times. I remember thinking, ‘I’m not qualified to babysit her… what if I’m doing something wrong! What if I’m messing up her progress in therapy or something?’ But it was during these hard times when I would realize how much I was learning from my experience with Bridget.

First, I realized that I could handle a lot more than I ever thought I could. Secondly, I had a greater understanding of the patience and love that Miss Cathy and so many others constantly give Bridget. From the time I started with Bridget until now, our relationship had changed so much. She greets me By name now when I see her, she gives me hugs without trying to bite me or pinch me, and most encouragingly, she doesn’t cry as much or at all when she sees me. It had been fun for me to watch Bridget grow and improve in her speech and social skills. I cannot wait to see what is to come in the future!


Shop For A Cause!

Shop For A Cause

Saturday, August 27th 2011

Since 2006, Macy’s Shop For A Cause Event has partnered with non-profit organizations nationwide to raise more than $38 million for their ongoing charitable efforts. This is your chance to be part of this monumental event on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

Shop For A Cause gives you the opportunity to give back to your community and to help our organization. Purchase a $5 Shopping Pass* for 25% off regular, sale and clearance items and 10% off furniture, mattresses and area rugs in every Macy’s store and online at on Saturday, August 27th, and we keep 100% of the proceeds. Plus, you can enter to win a $500 Macy’s Gift Card.

 Tickets can be purchased at the UCP-OC Life Without Limits Therapy Center front desk.

For More Info please contact Elizabeth @ 949.333.6412 or

The Friday Night Club for Teens with Special Needs

Looking for an avenue to get your teen involved?

I am thrilled to introduce you all to a new club that has joined forces with UCP-OC; a club that has formed for the sole purpose of creating a place and time for teens with special needs to come together and just hang out! For typical teens this is not a concept that is new to them, but there aren’t many places or avenues for teens with special needs to spend time together.

The Friday Night Club was started by a high school student named Natalie. As the other children in the family left for college, her brother was left without his playmates. Natalie saw a need for her brother to have a time to meet other teens with special needs and get to know them by hanging out. Not only is it a special time for these teens, but typical teens volunteer at the event and really create a connection with these teens. The club meets twice a month, one time at their home and the other time is at UCP-OC from 7-10pm for teens ages 13-18.

I had the privilege of going to one of the Friday Night clubs in their home, and it was astounding to see. To begin with there are so many activities for these teens to do; there is ping pong, Uno, Jenga, basketball, pool, video games and food restriction-friendly snacks are brought by families and are provided. Many of the teens just sit and hang out in groups to talk and get to know each other. The generosity of this family is astounding to say the least. Where I would go to retreat from the world after a long week of work, they open up their doors and hearts to these teens. They simply want to create a safe environment for teens to get together for games, movies, conversation and friendship just like typical teens, and get so much joy with the sound of laughter and life these teens create!

This Friday, August 19th, from 7-10pm the teens will be meeting at the UCP-OC facility to watch a movie on the projector and play bingo! 980 Roosevelt, Irvine 92620; Suite 100

Adult supervision is always present, but if your teen needs special care please stay and join your teen in the activities. Currently they are choosing between three movies: 1) Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2) Like Mike 3) Karate Kid.

So as they say, bring a pillow, bean bag, or favorite stuffed animal, and join the fun!

We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information or questions please contact:

• Natalie: 


• Elizabeth:


Mission Possible : Bike Camp 2011

  “I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like”


Take a moment and imagine; an open bike path along the beach, wind in your hair, the sound of the waves breaking next to you and your family or friends riding alongside of you on your new bicycle. Riding a bike is a privilege that many of us take for granted. Most people have vivid memories of riding a bicycle throughout their childhood…and if everyone is like me, a few minor spills along the way!

 Last week, I was able to experience the true gift of being able to master the art of riding a bike at Bike Camp 2011. The camp is put on by Lose the Training Wheels instructors, Nikki & Corey,  and hosted by UCP-OC as well as the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County at the beautiful Soka University in Aliso Viejo. We want to thank Easton-Bell Sports, for generously donating bicycle helmets to each of the participants to keep them safe as the rode around on their bikes!

 The camp starts out in the gym where the children are given a bike adapted to teach children with special needs to ride a bike gradually. Each child has a volunteer stay with them through the week and work alongside of them, and by the end of the week the volunteers are running after the children so that they can keep up! Monday- Wednesday the campers ride around the gym getting used to the bikes and constant pedaling. Thursday the campers were able to go outside and try riding a bike with two wheels! The parking lot was the perfect setting for the campers to hit the asphalt and show off their skills. The parents were overwhelmed and emotional at seeing their child riding a bike on their own.

 Many of the parents of these children never thought they would see the day their child would ride a bike. Parents, like Selah’s mother, were told that their child would never walk or talk. This is a testament of what hard work, intervention, and coming alongside a child can do! If it were not for the determination of parents, volunteers and therapists, these children could be in a very different situation.

The children’s determination to ride the bike on their own was simply put; astounding. At UCP-OC we feel so privileged to be a part of these children’s lives and see these steps into Living a Life Without Limits.

Selah was a recipient of a bike from Edwards Lifesciences the week prior so she had been waiting to ride her new bike on her own! By Friday she was cruising around the parking lot on her new bike with her volunteer running behind her. Here is a video her mom made to document her success!


Child of the Month

Here at UCP-OC we treat some incredible children with disabilities ranging from mild to severe. I hear stories all the time about the treatments that children are getting and milestones that are being reached because of UCP-OC. With all of these stories I thought we should have a place to showcase these children and their incredible feats.

Starting with the month of August we will have a Child of the Month so that our community at Life Without Limits Therapy Center at UCP-OC can see what other children are doing! With this page, family and friends can see what the child is achieving , understand more about how special each child is and the services that help get them to the place they are at.

This month we featured a child named Jacob. To read about the Jacob go to the Child of the Month page at the top of menu or follow this link.