Also inside: Meet our new executive director & read about Lanier Weed's journey with Facilitated Communication.
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— November 2016 —

HEAL Awards $95,000 for Fall Grants

This October, HEAL awarded a total of $95,000 in fall grants. $55,000 was allocated to schools and organizations serving children teens and adults with Autism. In addition, HEAL has awarded $27,000 to Project CHANCE – for Autism Service Dogs, and another $13,000 for iPads for ESE classrooms covering 5 school districts through our initiative iHEAL - iPads Helping Enrich Autistic Lives.
This year alone, HEAL has granted over $200,000. Since its inception, HEAL is proud to have donated $1.7 million, assisting individuals with Autism and their families throughout Northeast Florida. Through grants, HEAL supports schools with educational enhancements such as iPads, and also provides funds for specialized camps, the arts, afterschool programs and sports leagues.

HEAL’s 2016 Fall Grant Recipients:

  • ACCEPTS Inc — Facilitated Communication training workshop
  • BASCA Inc — Adult work programs
  • Catholic Charities — Camp I Am Special
  • Cummer Museum — Very Special Arts Festival & Camp Cummer
  • Flip Dog Yoga — Special needs yoga
  • Haven Horse Ranch — Physical therapy on horses
  • Henderson Haven — School & after school programs
  • Hope Therapy — Physical therapy on horses
  • Jacksonville Miracle League — Special needs baseball league
  • Jacksonville School for Autism — Musical & Visual Arts Program
  • Little Star Center — Sensory room expansion
  • May Institute — MAY You Be Healthy – Adult Program
  • N. FL School for Special Needs — Art programs
  • PVPV-Rawlings Elementary — iPad technology & programs
  • Project CHANCE — Autism Service Dogs
  • Reach Academy — Hands-on science & STEM Labs
  • Ridgeview High — Therapeutic sensory equipment
  • Sabal Palms Elementary — Sensory room equipment
  • Cultural Center Ponte Vedra — Music therapy program
  • iHEAL — 50 iPads for ESE classrooms across 5 school districts

Lanier Weed Featured in Article About Typing on iPads

Leslie and Lanier Weed with Morgan Tyner
The following is an article that appeared in Ponte Vedra Newsline.
By Susan D. Brandenburg
Gaze into her eyes. Her innate intelligence shines in them. Lanier Weed is “in there.” 
Profoundly autistic and non-verbal since the age of 18 months, Lanier, now 18, is no longer silent. Through an innovative typing technique called Facilitated Communication, Lanier’s joyful message rings out loud and clear: “Thank you for releasing my voice.” 
When she was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Lanier’s parents, Leslie and Bobby Weed of Ponte Vedra Beach, founded HEAL (Healing Every Autistic Life) to provide assistance to the autism community. Since 2004, The HEAL Foundation has granted nearly 2 million dollars locally for autism programs, camps, schools, support groups and service dogs.
Until 2014, when she began communicating on an iPad, Lanier’s intelligence was presumed to be that of a 4- or 5-year old based on her behaviors and some limited, non-verbal sign language. Since then, the teen has displayed not only high intelligence but a stunningly unique command of the English language. She describes her past life as being jailed in silence. She now feels it is her calling to help others who are still “trapped.” In one of her recent typing sessions, Lanier wrote that 2016 is the “Year to change hearts. You teach the teachers. You teach the smart is me. You teach that my voice is loud in silence.”
Read the Full Article

HEAL Welcomes New Executive Director, Jason Gurka

Leslie Weed and Jason Gurka giving out iPads at Little Star Center
Executive Director Jason Gurka and Founder Leslie Weed give out iPads at Little Star Center.
HEAL welcomes new Executive Director, Jason Gurka. Jason replaces Scottie May, who joined HEAL in 2007 as the first Executive Director. Under her tenure, Scottie was instrumental in raising funds, initiating a multitude of programs, creating and executing fundraisers. Scottie has made and indelible mark and huge impact on our Autism Community we are most grateful for her years of service.
Jason graduated from Flagler College with a degree in Sport Management. After graduation, he moved to San Diego, California and began volunteering at the Junior Seau Foundation. Over the next decade, he grew to become the Director of Operations. Junior's foundation raised funds for providing resources for underprivileged youth programs in San Diego County. Jason is excited to be back living on the First Coast and grateful for his new opportunity in helping our Autism community.
Recently, Jason and Board President Chriss Spires were guests of honor at the Miracle League Baseball game opener and not only threw out the first pitch, but also were presented with a photo plaque honoring HEAL. Jason has also been visiting various schools giving out iPads.

Save the date: He is now working on the upcoming HEAL Golf and Gala on February 23 & 24!

Save the Date

Feb. 23 & 24, 2017 – The HEAL Valley of Dreams Gala & Golf

You don’t want to miss the 10-year anniversary of the Valley of Dreams, the event that transformed HEAL and Northeast Florida’s Autism Community. Thursday night cocktails and Friday golf at TPC Sawgrass! More information coming soon!

Apr. 30, 2017 – HEAL Autism Walk @ The Zoo

This annual walk is a great way to see the Zoo, catch up with old friends, and make new ones! Plan to join HEAL and take a “Walk on the Wild Side” at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens! Don’t miss the Afterparty with Patty Crosby, face painting, bouncy houses and more!

Sep. 4, 2017 – Great Ponte Vedra Paddle Benefitting HEAL

Copyright © 2016 HEAL Foundation, All rights reserved.

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