Lee County Autism Resource & Advocacy’s respite weekend supports families, provides outlets for teens

July 26, 2018

Camp photo with families and volunteersLee County Autism Resource and Advocacy (LCARA), a 501c3 non-profit organization run entirely by unpaid volunteers, recently held its 4th annual respite and education camp for families that have an individual on the autism spectrum. The camp facility is granted to LCARA by Children’s Harbor, which is located at Lake Martin.

“LCARA offers many opportunities for families throughout the year,” said Carly Baum, an LCARA board member. “These include support groups, educational meetings with subject matter experts, teen and young adult social opportunities, one-on-one IEP guidance, help locating helpful resources based on individual situation and circumstances, and family activities set in a caring and understanding environment. That describes our very popular respite weekend event.”

Kayla McInroy (left) and Brenna McIlroy (right) with two campers
Kayla McInroy (left) and Brenna McIlroy (right) pictured with two campers.

LCARA’s mission is to provide support, information, advocacy, education, and resources to children and adults on the autism spectrum, their families, and their communities.

“This year, during the first weekend of July we hosted 15 families totaling 56 individuals from Lee County, Chambers County, and Montgomery County, at Children’s Harbor,” Baum said. “The family members attending ranged from 6 months old to 65 years old, and the individuals on the autism spectrum ranged from 4 years old to 28 years old. The camp — and all other activities that LCARA offers — was free for the families to attend, because we know that therapies and medications are expensive, and we don’t want money to be yet another barrier to the families.”

Auburn University student LCARA volunteers
Auburn University student LCARA volunteers.

“We invite subject matter experts to come and speak with the parents and answer questions, and while the parents are learning, the volunteer counselors are guiding the children through fun camp activities. There are respite breaks for parents to relax and enjoy the beautiful location and each other’s company, and there are also family activities that the families can enjoy together.”

LCARA relies heavily on volunteers to make the camp a reality every year. The board members, camp director, camp nurse, and all of the camp counselors are unpaid volunteers who give their time to make a difference in the life of a child on the autism spectrum, and a difference in the life of their the family. A vast majority of the volunteers come from Auburn University.

To learn more about LCARA, or the Regional Autism Network headquartered at Auburn University, contact Dr. Doris Hill at hilldol@auburn.edu.