50 Faces of The Arc- Lauren

Meet Lauren. She works at Maggie’s Closet (named after the founder of Paxton Campus’ daughter, Margaret) a non-profit store located on Paxton Campus that provides free clothing and accessories for families in need. After one year of volunteering, Lauren was given the opportunity to work part-time at Maggie’s Closet through STEP Up; a program of The Arc of Loudoun on Paxton Campus that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities. Maggie’s Closet accepts shoppers by appointment only and features all sizes of quality, seasonal clothing. Lauren recently began taking on more responsibility; answering phone calls, and scheduling shopping visits. She greets each shopper with a smile when they arrive for their appointments.

Lauren says working at ‘Maggie’s’ has been an amazing experience,

“I have a lot more confidence talking to people now and have become more independent. I’ve learned skills that I’ve never learned before!”

Skills such as answering the phone and interacting with customers were challenging for Lauren at first, but now she’s able to do both tasks easily. In fact, she’d love to do more public speaking. Lauren says,“I’d like to be on TV or the news. Advocating and being able to talk at The White House about Paxton would be my dream!” Lauren especially enjoys meeting all the families who shop at Maggie’s,“I love seeing them smiling. It makes me happy knowing that I’m bringing happiness to all of the people who are shopping.”

Learn more about Maggie’s Closet here: www.paxtoncampus.org/maggies-closet




50 Faces of The Arc- Masih

Meet Masih, a bright and cheerful eight-year-old student at The Aurora School. Vanessa, his lead Applied Behavior Analysis instructor, has seen tremendous growth in Masih since the beginning of the school year in September. Before coming to Aurora, Masih struggled going to new places, but now he looks forward to visiting the public library or stopping by the grocery store. He continues to learn lifelong skills at Aurora: from learning to share with others, to washing his hands independently, to allowing peers to be physically near him– now, he’s always asking for hugs! Vanessa believes it’s important for kids who are on the autism spectrum, like Masih, to have the opportunity to attend schools like Aurora that provide different learning strategies for all types of students. Vanessa is extremely proud of Masih’s progress saying,

“I enjoy knowing and working with everyone at Paxton Campus, but what an honor to work closely with Masih…the skills he learns at Aurora he will keep for a lifetime.”


Expression Through Art

Paint, markers, pencils, American flags and paper fill the tables in the ALLY Advocacy Center.

When you arrive at Expressions Through Art taught by Darcy Swope and Trent Carbaugh, owners and instructors at Bird of A Feather Art School, you can sit anywhere and pick which ever art materials you want to work with.

You can paint on large sheets of paper or you can draw with sharpies in your notebook. You can work in color or in black and white. You are free to create and express yourself.

As you walk in the door, everyone is greeted with a warm hello. The artists are excited to see each other and catch up about their activities over the past week.

Shortly after the hellos, blank pieces of paper begin to transform in to beautiful pieces of art. For the next hour, everyone is in art mode.

Tony creates a picture to give to his sister as a gift. Emily paints a Fourth of July cake and Sophia works on a rainbow with her favorite color yellow

Stripes, mountains, bracelets and whirlwinds of colors are just a few of the other masterpieces created at last night’s class.

As everyone is deep in their work, Darcy and Trent walk around to see how each artist is doing. Everyone is excited to show off what they have been working on.

It is beautiful and inspiring to watch the class open up their minds and express themselves on the paper in front of them. This hour is a chance to show what they have been thinking about and want to show to the world.

Check out our art gallery featuring the AWESOME art from last nights class.

If you want to join in the fun… don’t miss out on our upcoming sessions.

Expressions Through Art is adaptive art classes for adults age 18 and up. ALL abilities are invited to take part in this exciting instructional class that will allow you to discover your inner artistic voice. Each week will provide a new and exciting opportunity to try different mediums (or the same one each week if that is what you would like to do!


Speak Up is back!

by Jennifer Alves, Receptionist and Self-Advocate at Paxton Campus

After a long recess, SPEAK-UP! is ready to regroup and strengthen the voices of young advocates.  For the first meeting of 2016, 8 eager participants set up the ‘agenda’ and discussion rules on Tuesday, April 5th from 12pm to 1pm.

Speak Up! Public Speaking Group for Adults with Disabilities

The ALLY Advocacy Center is home-base for SPEAK-UP!   to meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month.  Members suggest we also try to group at local cafés and coffee shops.

Everything discussed at SPEAK-UP!  remains in the group.  The privacy rule makes it comfortable for members to share personal experience and/or bring up a problem they need help with.  The group will of course discuss and debate advocacy issues.  Topics include: relationships, mobility and transportation, jobs and wages, exercise and recreational activity, independent living options, and state waiver programs.

Members look forward to speaking with groups at Paxton Campus and other venues.  Most members took part in Disability Advocacy Day 2016, and enjoyed the experience of meeting with state delegates at VA’s General Assembly Building in Richmond.  More recently, members spoke to a room full of local leaders at ALLY Advocacy.

The Golden Rule is expected to be obeyed at SPEAK-UP!  Be courteous and considerate to your fellow members at all times; show respect of others feelings and opinions even when they do match your own.  Please raise your hand to speak.  Please do not chat with others when someone is talking to the group.  A member does not need to talk if they do not want to.

Melissa Heifetz mentioned an advocacy project scheduled for September.  The Loudoun Education Board will be invited to Paxton Campus to hear story’s from students with developmental challenges on what school is like or was like.


Love-ABLE Products Launch Party

Launch of Love-ABLE Product Line at Be Beauty

Leesburg, Virginia, April 11, 2016 – In recognition of Autism Awareness month, Paxton Campus and Be Beauty have partnered together for a launch party to introduce the new line of beauty and home products – Love-ABLE Products, made by the STEP Up Team, young adults with disabilities who are employees at Paxton Campus.

The Love-ABLE Product Launch Happy Hour was on Monday, April 11 from 5pm to 7pm at Be Beauty in Market Station in Leesburg.


Here are the two Love-ABLE Products that Be Beauty has started to sell in their store: Bath Fizzies and Room Deodorizer!

Love-ABLE Launch Party

“We are trying to empower young adults with disabilities, who might not be successful in another environment, to become entrepreneurs and create their own businesses with whatever interests them,” says Katie Wilcox, Program Director for the STEP Up Program.

STEP Up (Supported Training and Employment Program) provides adults with disabilities with training and meaningful employment opportunities both on-campus and in the community.  We believe that ALL adults should be involved in meaningful jobs which they enjoy and that ALL adults are capable of thriving in the workforce when provided with the right supports.

Be Beauty is Downtown Leesburg’s only custom makeup studio, with makeup, skincare, nail care products and accessories for sale.

STEP Up will be launching two products at the event: Love-ABLE Bath Fizzies and Love-ABLE Room Deodorizer.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Be Beauty for this product launch, and look forward to many more fruitful partnerships with Loudoun businesses. Be Beauty will also be hosting a ‘Spa Day’ for some women with disabilities living in Loudoun later this month,” says Jennifer Lassiter, Executive Director of Paxton Campus.

To Read the Press Release: CLICK HERE


Check out the Love-ABLE products made by the STEP Up team here: https://the-art-market-at-paxton.myshopify.com/


The Art Market at Paxton is Now ONLINE

Now you can shop The Art Market at Paxton ONLINE!

the art mar
This week the STEP Up team launched their website for The Art Market at Paxton. This art market features jewelry, magnets, candles, cards and more created entirely by students on the Paxton Campus!

The Art Market at Paxton is handled and maintained by the STEP Up team. It is one of the STEP Up teams ‘microenterprise’ businesses that is tailored to the employees’ interests and skills. Up until now you could only shop at the Paxton Attraction! Charles, a team member, created the website by himself and is processing and sending out orders with Kyle, another STEP Up member.

The launch has been a success and STEP Up is adjusting wonderfully to the new addition to their business. I ordered from the Art Market and received my order THE NEXT DAY! It is incredible how quickly and seamlessly they are adding this new element.

We hope that moving online will help us drum up more business for the beautiful artwork created by our students. The Art Market at Paxton is great for gift shopping!

Visit the Art Market at the Paxton Attraction weekday mornings or shop anytime online!

Check out some of the things we have one sale now!




Lots of things have happened on Paxton Campus over the last week. In case you missed anything… here is a Weekly Recap!



Last Saturday, Paxton Campus and 12 Band Jam teamed up to host the 8th Annual 12 Band Jam at Spanky’s Shenanigans. 12 Band Jam is a day of live music and prizes to raise money for The Aurora School.

This year we had an AWESOME, diverse lineup of bands from Americana to folk to rock n roll.

Tons of people from the Paxton family and the greater Leesburg Community came out to show their support and enjoy the day.

The weather was beautiful and everyone seemed to be having a great time! A huge THANK YOU to all the bands, volunteers and people who attended that made the day a success.


Our beloved golf cart, donated earlier this summer, was stolen off our property last week. The golf cart was used by our STEP Up team to practice driving, to deliver campus mail and to move things around the campus. The team was so excited about having their own means of transportation on campus and what doors this could open in the future.

The golf cart was discovered vandalized and inoperable across from Leesburg Elementary School.

While this was super sad news for everyone in the Paxton Family, there is a silver lining!

The Paxton Family has received overwhelming support and love from the Loudoun Community. Our Facebook post about our stolen golf cart was shared over 82 times, NBC Washington visited our campus to broadcast about the stolen golf cart and many people have made donations towards helping us buy a new one. It is so great to see that in sad times, great people can turn it around.

If you would like to donate to our Stolen Golf Cart fund: Click here!

Watch two members from STEP Up on NBC Washington sharing the story about our golf cart!


Pat from Legacy Farms and our STEP Up team member, Kyle were hard at work on Wednesday adding a fence to STEP Up’s beautiful vegetable garden. This fence will keep our future veggies safe. We already have some corn sprouting up! The STEP Up team has been hard at work watering and weeding the garden.

In a few weeks, Legacy Farms will be helping us teach a curriculum to the STEP Up team so they can learn new skills and techniques for maintaining a garden.

Thank you for all that you do, Legacy Farms!

4. 1,000 LIKES 

The Paxton Family has set a goal to reach 1,000 Likes on Facebook by September 1st. We are ONLY SEVEN likes away from our goal. We are so excited that the end is in sight and we are about to reach this milestone!

1000LIKESIf you haven’t already shared our post or invited your friends to LIKE our page, do so now and help us reach 1,000 likes by September 1st!

Tickets for Shocktober, Paxton’s biggest fundraiser of the year, go on sale THIS SATURDAY (August 15th), make sure to spread the word to your friends and family, so this year can be the biggest year YET!Instagram


DON’T FORGET! Campus will be closed the week of August 23rd for our third and final summer recess.


Jennifer Alves gets Published

Jennifer Alves, speaker, advocate, receptionist and artist, now has a new title to add to her long list, published author.

Jennifer Alves’, receptionist at Paxton Campus and Next Chapter Book Club leader, personal essay, “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”, is published in the 71st Issue of Kaleidoscope, an award-winning magazine published by United Disability Services in Akron, Ohio. Her essay was selected from more than 350 submissions to be included in the magazine.


Everyone here at Paxton is so excited and proud! WAY TO GO JEN! 

Read her beautiful piece about her journey on the Appalachian Trail!

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 12.52.37 PM
To see the full magazine: Kaleidoscope: Summer Musings
(Jennifer’s piece is on page 32)