The Els for Autism Foundation
Since 2009 after Benjamin Els got diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Liezl Els has made it a mission of hers to create a "one-stop-shop" where we can serve as the prime authority on autism spectrum disorder for Palm Beach County, and perhaps all of Florida. The first big step in fulfilling the Els Family Dreams was in cultivating a multi-acre campus in the community of Limestone Creek in Jupiter, in 2015 the Els Center of Excellence had their ribbon cutting ceremony which introduced the world to the Foundation and Special Events Building, and to The Learning Center which is a public charter school for Pre to Middle School Aged Children.
As our reputation has grown, we now have a Pavilion, a Sensory Arts Garden, a Public Charter High School, and we are still growing. We've held Employment Summits, Housing Summits, Awe in Autism which would demonstrate the cultural competencies of the population of people with autism, and our latest Conference was a Recreation Conference that developed in Arts and Leisure, Sports and Fitness and Healthy Living and Well Being. One of our cornerstones is the Ernie Els #GameON Autism® Programs, like Tennis and Golf and Fitness which has revolutionized Sports Therapy.
While we spend a great deal of time on the physical self, we have also emphasized the artistic side. I am chair of the Advisory Board and some of our members through the performing arts or crafting arts have contributed to our vision as empowered individuals with autism, part of the latter has to do with the Artist Showcase we hold every quarter. Our Great Microbusiness - Sea of Possibilities - which can come to a location near you, has these developmentally disabled and autistic individuals creating art that they can sell at the booths when we are out in the community.
I have benefitted from my tenure at the Foundation, I co-host a Podcast, write a blog, and have given the OK on countless cultural artifacts with a 'yay' or 'nay'. It is very important that the Cultural Council acknowledges us as a cultural entity. Especially for any future developments as an authority on autism.