The Outdoors for All Foundation
This blog post is from Ed Bronson, the Executive Director of The Outdoors for All Foundation, the recipient of an Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant in 2009. The 2011 grant recipients were announced this week.
The Outdoors for All Foundation is a Pacific Northwest based nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities through outdoor recreation. In 2009, Outdoors for All received a generous grant from Autism Speaks to help deliver “expanded outdoor recreation experiences customized for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
In order to serve the multi-sensory needs and varying social abilities of this population, our project consisted of:
- Funding for a consultant with autism expertise to train staff and volunteers who work regularly with our participants, and help in some program design for new and existing programs.
- Funding for a behavioral aide to join the staff of our day camp program and other year round programs.
These resources improved the quality of our services for those on the autism spectrum—which comprise over 60% of our day camp population. The project increased the skills of our staff and volunteers to help participants regulate their sensory needs so that they could learn and enjoy outdoor recreation. These resources also increased our capacity to serve more participants with autism.
When asked about our program, Crystal Goetz, mother of camper Carl Goetz, responded:
“Outdoors for All has made our son feel included in life. Outdoors for All empowers him and makes him feel like he is capable and strong. Not different or disabled. He has always come back smiling and happy from his outings with Outdoors for All. Whether it’s skiing or day camps the people of Outdoors for All have made Carl’s experience one he can’t wait for year after year. We feel good letting him go with the caring staff, because they make him feel welcome and safe. We don’t have to worry waiting at home for him either, because we know that safety is a top priority. We have recommended Outdoors for All every time someone asks us for a good recreation program for kids and teens with autism. Thank you Outdoors for All for giving our son the time of his life.”
We were thrilled to partner with Autism Speaks in 2009 to increase Outdoors for All’s awareness and proficiency and serving children and adults with ASD. We look forward to partnering with Autism Speaks in the future as we continue to enhance our offerings for this underserved community.
For a list of this year’s Family Services Community Grants recipients, visit www.autismspeaks.org//community/family_services/grants_2011.php.
Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, select Find a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.