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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. Regina Torres
    January 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    My daughter is 13 years old and has an Autistic brother who is 8.
    Her 8th grade class had an opportunity to make their own Declaration of Independance. While many kids were changing it to less homework and shorter school days. She took advantage of expressing Autism and the lack of education on people.

    Declaration of the Families of Disabled Children in the U.S.

    We the Families of the Disabled children of the U.S. believe that now is the time to treat children with disabilities equally now. We cannot stand to watch our brothers/sisters to be treated with no respect from their peers and sometimes even the adults that surround them at their school. This unfairness has become so overwhelming and frustrating that today we have chosen to take a stand and declare freedom from the disrespect, bullying, and isolation of our disabled brothers/sisters.

    Today’s youth, and sometimes adults, have judged children with disabilities every day without realizing it. They laugh, point fingers, and make ugly faces to children at stores throwing a tantrum, or at school for just keeping to themselves due to their incapability to communicate well with their peers. They need to change this behavior and keep their opinions to themselves because they don’t know what that family is going through. To do this we need to try and explain that children everywhere can have a disability without them realizing; that they shouldn’t laugh because they don’t know whether or not that person has a disability.

    Because of this sad state of affairs families of these children have had to endure many hardships:

    · Youths have isolated disabled children for being different and not thinking like they do.

    · Adults have judged children with disabilities for throwing tantrums in stores for a small reason that can only blame the disability that they may have.

    · Children pointing at kids with disabilities for doing things (like: spinning, clapping, shaking their hands or heads) that calm them down so that they could behave.

    · Adults and children point and make faces when disabled children are talking to themselves when they are simply thinking out loud.

    Our sufferings, our brothers/sisters with the disability who also suffer, have gone through many cries for the lack of friends, support, education about the disability, and acceptance. The time has come to state at once and for all the freedom from the disrespect, bullying, and isolation of our disabled brothers/sisters. No more will these actions be accepted. The family and friends of these children from the moment on are free from the discrimination and isolation of the disabled children of the United States of America that has scarred our hearts.

    If you agree with this petition, please foward to other people to spread awareness about this issue. Then add you name to the bottom of this e-mail and we will see how many names we get.

    -Regina M. Torres

  2. katrina raggett
    January 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    i totally agree well said

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