JUPITER, Fla. — The Els For Autism Foundation reached a milestone on Tuesday in Jupiter, continuing its mission of helping individuals on the autism spectrum with a building for adults.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the opening of the Stoops Family Adult Family services building."
It's about continuing a mission of helping individuals on the spectrum transition from high school to adulthood and beyond.
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Ernie Els, a professional golfer, is excited about the new facility.
"Being that we've been an ongoing center, with the lower school, upper school, we've got our golf program at the back, and this is a continuation of what we are doing here, moving into the future," Els said. "Most facilities around the world at 21 they are at the age they stop. There's not much more facilities can do, so we wanted to be a little bit different and start an adult services program for kids that are quite severe who can't quite get back into society and give them a place where they can thrive."
He said a facility to help individuals on the spectrum after they turn 21 is needed.
"I think it's a dream and part of our dream has become a reality and this building is one step further," hie wife Liezl said.
The mission is to empower individuals with vocational, independent living and social skills.
The dream started with their son Ben who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 3 1/2.
"It's just seeing that small part of that dream from that moment of diagnosis and that fear that you have nowhere to go and what's next.," she said. "And then being able to build this and pave the way for others to follow has been amazing."
The Els Center of Excellence campus gives hope to the community.
"I would never have imagined standing here in Jupiter, Florida with this kind of facility," Ernie Els said. "My wife is all excited. She pushed from the start and for Ben to be accepted by the community is huge. The community has welcomed us, businesses in the community have welcomed us. And this facility is only going to enhance kids, integrate even more into society."