June 2021
When: June 26th
Where: VB Friends School, 1537 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Time: 12:30PM-3:30PM
Cost: FREE!

Summer is back! Come celebrate at our picnic family fun day with FACT, the Autism Society of Tidewater Virginia, the Virginia Autism Foundation, and more on Saturday, June 26th at the VB Friends School from 12:30 to 3:30 PM. Check out our Facebook event and save the date!

- Free dessert for attendees thanks to our sponsor Maxim Healthcare Services!
- Food options TBD
- Balloon Twister from Vertical Kids Entertainment
- Mr. Jessie DJing
- lawn games (cornhole, bocce, etc.)
- bubble machines
- sports (soccer, basketball)
- water play (sprinklers, squirt guns)
- scooters in the gym
- playground
- and more!

Family fun day events are free for all families. In order to provide these events at no cost, we often rely on our amazing volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering to help us on June 26th, sign up here.

Donors & Granters - Ocean Breeze
Ocean Breeze Waterpark and FACT have been partnering for more than a decade to provide unforgettable, fun-filled summers for our campers! In addition to being an extraordinary community partner, Ocean Breeze hosts its annual Sensory Friendly Night which helps raise funds for FACT each year. This year the Sensory Friendly Night is on July 22nd from 4-8 PM! All you need to do is follow this link to purchase your ticket and make sure you use promo code: FACT. Get your tickets now and come have fun with us on July 22nd!
Mover & Shaker - Edna Vega
Edna Vega is a dedicated and determined mother, grandmother, and employee. Her son Aaron was diagnosed with autism when he was five years old. When Edna and her family moved to Hampton Roads from New York in 2009, she wanted to make sure her son had the opportunity to socialize and make friends. Edna discovered FACT through Aaron's middle school teacher and enrolled him in Camp Gonnawannagoagin'. Aaron immediately became immersed in FACT programs and soon Edna began volunteering for FACT.

Edna's work ethic and devotion to FACT and its mission was infectious. In 2016, Edna was brought on as a full-time employee. Over the past five years, she has continued to work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure everything at FACT runs smoothly. Her job titles and duties have continued to grow as she has proven herself exceptionally capable of adapting and learning new skills. On any given day Edna can turn on a dime between managing finances, running background checks for staff, dealing with repairs and maintenance for FACT's vehicles, requesting silent/live auction items for the Lawn Party, ordering necessary office supplies, fixing the printer, researching potential donors, updating our donor database, and providing invaluable feedback about programs as a parent of an amazing young man with autism.

Edna is a fierce and loyal employee, mother, and grandmother. It is because of Edna that the FACT trains run on time and FACT is able to fulfill its mission.
Gotta Love this Kid - Ashley Bruno
Over the years, FACT has expanded its programming from kids with autism to also serve our growing population of young adults. Ashley is one of our incredible young adults who started coming to FACT when she was 21 years old. Over the last six years, Ashley has been a constant ray of sunshine and optimism for our staff, other campers, and volunteers.

Ashley started her journey with FACT at summer camp. Her mother Carolyn said of all the camps Ashley tried over the years, she had never seen one as organized, prepared, and supportive as Camp Gonnawannagoagin'. Ashley is a big fan of a regimented schedule and loves being able to check the schedule each day at camp to see what is coming up next.

This Spring, Ashley took our brand new Camping life skills class. At the end of the class, FACT offered a camping trip to Northwest River Park with the other families. Ashley loved camping class so much she was counting down the days to FACT's first ever overnight family camping trip. Needless to say, she was not disappointed once the day arrived. Ashley, with her copy of the schedule in hand, got to participate in all the activities including a scavenger hunt, creating a fire, cooking, running the dishwashing station, hiking through the woods with friends, gazing at the moon through a telescope, and her favorite experience: the campfire. As the evening came to an end, Ashley, her mom, her fellow campers, and their families all settled in by the campfire to enjoy s'mores (her camping nickname given her love for them) and some live music. When asked what song she wanted to hear, Ashley immediately requested "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver. Although her mother had no idea Ashley even knew the song, Ashley ended up serenading the rest of the group with her rendition of the chorus (see our YouTube video above).

Ashley was not ready for camping to be over and has requested it become an annual event and be expanded to two nights instead of just one. Prior to this trip with FACT, Ashley had never been camping before in her life. We can't wait to see what new firsts Ashley has with FACT in the future.
Upcoming Programs and Events
Camp Gonnawannagoagin' starts June 28th!

We are so excited to welcome back our campers, volunteers, and staff for a fun filled summer starting on June 28th! With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we are excited to get back out into the community and do various outings throughout the week including to Ocean Breeze, Camp Grom, Our Sensory Farm, Jump Trampoline Gym, the Zoo, Funville, APEX, the beach at First Landing State Park, and fun on-site activities such as bubbles, foam party, and balloons from Vertical Kids!

Social Programs June 2021:
Social Club/Teen Time/Out-N-About - There are still a couple of spots left for the Tides Game on Saturday, June 19th from 6:20 to 9:30 p.m. We will be meeting for the event at Friends School at 6:20 p.m. Register here.
Virginia Aquarium: Sensory Friendly Morning!
June 12th from 7:30 to 9 a.m.
The Virginia Aquarium will open early exclusively for individuals and families wanting a quieter Aquarium experience with soft lighting, limited sounds, and other modifications. They hope that this special event will allow guests to enjoy the animals and exhibits at their own pace and ensure a comfortable visit for everyone before the doors open to the general public at 9:00 a.m.

One caretaker will be admitted at no charge if they are working with a guest who is visiting the Aquarium. A caretaker is defined as a required attendant without whom the guest could not tour the Aquarium, and the guest may request an additional caretaker be admitted at 50% of the regular admission.