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October Member Spotlight: CHAMP

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

 

There are many nonprofits in Palm Beach County serving the needs of intellectually disabled children and adults.

 

A new agency called CHAMP is one of them, but it focuses on something a little different: Giving differently-abled people with autism, down syndrome, and other diagnoses a paycheck instead of a disability check.

 

It’s a mission that Brett Carpenter of CHAMP is passionate about.

 

The CHAMP founder shares his family's journey as part of our October member profile.

 

 

It was June 2000 when our family doctor uttered the words that changed the course of our lives: “Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter your son Reese has autism.” Those words started a journey for my wife and I, and 21 years later, we have learned from family, educators, and therapists how to help our son be the best “Reese” he can be.

 

So when I had a chance to pay it forward, I took it.

After 38 years of working at a large South Florida company, I retired and started a non-profit called Children’s Health And Mentor Program (CHAMP).  Our mission is simple. Provide FREE recreational activities for youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities. 

CHAMP serves people with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy to name a few. Through recreational activities, CHAMP will help them improve their social skills and help them reach their full potential, which can include employment. CHAMP’s vision is to replace a disability check with a paycheck.

CHAMP welcomes those with any intellectual disability, or should I say “different ability.”

 

Some Background

 

Today, one in 58 children will be diagnosed with autism – up from around one in 150 when Reese was born. Autism is becoming more prevalent and having larger impacts in our community.

 

When our children hit age 22, they "age out" of school and there are no formal services for them. In the intellectual disability community, this is known as "THE CLIFF," meaning the services drop off. 

 

As a father of a 21-year-old son with autism, I understand what the challenges have been for my family and we are now facing "THE CLIFF" ourselves.  

 

My hope is to serve youth/young adults before and after "THE CLIFF."

 

Seven Great Trips

Since our inception in March 2019, CHAMP has had seven events: teaching about flying drones, bowling with Special Olympians, a Hawaiian-themed dance, paddle boarding, a croquet lesson, a fishing trip on the Intracoastal, and a trip to Miami on the Brightline Train to visit the Science Museum.

 

“The one I feel most passionate about is the Brightline Train trip to Miami to see the Frost Science Museum on October 12,” said Brett.

CHAMP took 20 youth/young adults and 25 parents/caregivers as chaperones, traveled on the Brightline Railway, and then met seven VIVINT employee volunteers at the Miami Brightline Station. Later on, all of us visited the museum’s planetarium show and the multiple levels of aquariums.

 

All these activities were very visible and enjoyable by all.

 

What wasn’t visible is that there were a variety of teachable moments that occurred and the group didn’t realize they were learning. Learning while having fun is the hallmark of CHAMP’s program.

 

Visit WWW.MYYCHAMP.COM to learn more about what we do and to see the pictures and associated descriptions in the EVENT PICTURES section. If you know of a family that could benefit from FREE recreational activities for those with intellectual disabilities, please share this article and visit the website.


If you know a great story about a local nonprofit, please share it with Charlotte Gill, Nonprofits First’s director of development and business strategies, at cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org



Tags:  Charities  Cultivate  Membership  Network  Nonprofit  Nonprofits First  Storytelling 

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