February 2021
Donors & Granters - Foundations
The end of any year often brings with it many important donations from our loyal supporters at various foundations throughout the area. Despite the economic uncertainty raised by the pandemic, our supporters from various foundations continued to come through for FACT in 2020.

We are so grateful for our family foundations, including the Hoesley Gibeault Family Foundation and the Janis 2011 Charitable Lead Annuity Trust, which continued to support FACT at the same level as previous years. Both families have been long-time supporters of FACT and provided $15,000 in grants to allow FACT to continue to serve its mission within the autism community.

Judge Westbrook Parker runs the Camp Foundation and Ruth Camp Campbell Foundation and knows how important administrative costs are to maintaining a successful nonprofit. FACT works hard to keep administrative costs low but they do exist and programs would not happen without our talented and steadfast team of administrators. This past year in particular saw the importance of a strong administrative team as FACT had to navigate such issues as loan forgiveness under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), converting its annual fundraiser from a 400 person in-person party to a virtual event, and creating and implementing restrictions and protocols to provide a safe environment for in-person programs. We at FACT are so grateful for the generous $12,000 the Camp and Ruth Camp Campbell Foundations donated to assist us with our administrative costs and help keep FACT running smoothly for years to come.
Mover & Shaker - Sheri Bragg
Speaking of amazing administrators, this month's Mover and Shaker is our fantastic Program Director Sheri Bragg. Sheri has been volunteering with FACT since she was 11 years old. Her commitment and dedication to FACT extends back 17 years and she is more important now than ever to the continuation of our mission.

Sheri left her job in special education back in the Fall of 2019 to become FACT's Program Director. In that time, she has successfully expanded our year-round programs (even during a pandemic), implemented our first ever virtual programs during the lockdown back in the Spring while at home with her newborn Jackie, created and enacted extensive COVID-19 safety protocols so FACT could resume in-person programming, transitioned our six week Camp Gonnawannagoagin' from a community outing based program to our first ever all on-site camp at Camp Grom, started new outdoor programs including kayaking and hiking in the Fall, transitioned our Halloween family fun day to a safe outside Trunk-or-Treat and movie night, and continued to be an amazing mom to her <1 year old all at the same time.

FACT would not be what it is without Sheri and we could not be more lucky to have her!
Gotta Love this Kid - Sarah Kohn
When Sarah Kohn was 5 years old, her mother, aunt, and grandmother (who refer to themselves as "Team Sarah") heard about FACT and could not wait for her to turn 6 and start participating in our programs. Team Sarah was very nervous on her first day at Camp Gonnawannagoagin'. Sarah had many bad prior experiences at other programs which were not able to accommodate her unique needs. In the parking lot that morning, parents of other campers reassured Team Sarah that the people at FACT knew what they were doing and would take good care of her.

Team Sarah described her progress since that first summer as life-changing. FACT allowed Sarah to expand her world beyond her household for the first time and gave her the opportunity to just be a kid. Over the past three years, Sarah has continued to come to Camp Gonnawannagoagin', our year-round sports and leisure programs, and even learned how to ride a bike at FACT's bike camp. During her time at FACT, Sarah learned first how to play next to other kids and eventually how to play directly with her peers. Sarah began making friends, shared her first hug with a friend, and even started helping other kids learn how to play and put away their toys. FACT programs provided Sarah the opportunity to have social reciprocity with her peers which was something she couldn't have at home. Sarah is still bringing home new words and actions. Team Sarah has been overjoyed as her social and communication skills have continued to grow.

FACT's emphasis on community integration through field trips allows Sarah to do more with her family. Team Sarah feels much more comfortable taking Sarah to places, such as the aquarium, because she has already visited with her friends at FACT. Just this past October, Sarah went to FACT's Trunk-or-Treat event the day before Halloween and trick-or-treated for the first time ever. After 9 years of waiting, Sarah's experience at FACT's Trunk-or-Treat gave her the confidence to finally go trick-or-treating in her neighborhood the next night on Halloween.

The pandemic and associated social isolation has been difficult for everyone, but has been particularly hard for children with autism. Team Sarah noticed her social and communication skills were regressing during lockdown. They were so excited FACT provided a safe and COVID-friendly version of Camp Gonnawannagoagin' this past summer. Once Sarah returned to Camp, they noticed an immediate improvement. She continues to come to our COVID-friendly year-round programs and we love seeing her develop and grow.

Being part of the FACT community has not only been great for Sarah and her development, but also for Team Sarah. They are able to talk to other parents about shared experiences and get advice and provider recommendations. Team Sarah is also overjoyed that they now get to be the parents in the parking lot reassuring other nervous first timers.

We are so happy Sarah and her amazing family have become such an integral part of our community and allowed us to become a part of Team Sarah. We can't wait to see her continued progress during the years to come!
Upcoming Programs and Events
Our buddy Andru working the crowd at Karaoke with his rendition of "Ghostbusters"
Spring Programs

FACT's next set of year-round programs starts in March and registration will open up later this month. Follow us on social media (use the buttons at the top of this newsletter) to know once registration opens and make sure to continue to check our Active Registration page in mid-February. Given the ongoing restrictions due to COVID-19, Spring Break Camp is still TBD. We are hopeful but a final determination of our plans will be made closer to Spring Break. Call us at 757-422-2040 or email us at info@camp4autism.com if you are interested in more details on our programs.

Sports Programs:
Open Sports Clinic - This is a new once a month program we are starting at Friends School gym. This program will be an open gym concept with various sports activities and fun games in a safe, socially distanced environment. This month we are planning to hold it on Saturday, February 13th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (we are still waiting for confirmation from the venue). Come drop off your child or young adult with autism for three hours and enjoy a date night for Valentine's Day.
Soccer - Saturday, Mar. 6th to May 1st, eight weeks at Friends School gym. Sessions offered at 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

Leisure Programs:
Karaoke Club - Karaoke was so much fun this winter we are bringing it back for Spring! Tuesday, Mar. 2nd to Apr. 27th, eight weeks at Friends School gym from 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Hiking - FACT is bringing back our FREE hiking program from the Fall this Spring. Wednesday, Mar. 3rd to Apr. 28th, eight weeks at various locations in the area which will be announced closer to each date from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Camping - This is a brand new program focused on teaching camping and outdoor skills including how to put up a tent, building a fire, etc. This program is tentatively scheduled to run for eight weeks at Friends School with an optional camping trip with FACT afterwards somewhere in the area (this optional camping trip will not be included in the price of the program and at least one parent or chaperone will be required to attend). Thursday, Mar. 4th to Apr. 29th, eight weeks at Friends School from 5:00-6:30 p.m. Optional Camping Trip is TBD.

We at FACT are monitoring the ongoing situation with regards to COVID-19. We have implemented health screenings, temperature checks, invested in sanitizing equipment, limited group sizes, required staff to wear masks, and modified instruction to facilitate proper social distancing. We appreciate your ability to remain adaptive and flexible with us during this uncertain time. We will keep you apprised of any changes in our programming via social media and email.
Autism Research Opportunities
This month we have two separate Autism research studies you may be interested in participating in.

The first study is being conducted by the Emory Autism Center and is looking into Autism, Anxiety, and Pain. They are looking for adults with or without an autism spectrum disorder or anxiety disorder diagnosis to complete four brief online questionnaires about their sensory sensitivity and pain perception. These questionnaires can be completed in one sitting and are expected to take approximately 45-60 minutes total. Click HERE to participate in the study.

The second study is being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Children's Center for Autism who is recruiting children (ages 2 up to 7 years) with autism spectrum disorder and sleep disturbances to participate in a study examining telehealth help for sleep in young children with autism. If you are interested in participating please contact autismresearch@ccf.org or call 216-448-6392.