Charity Spotlight: The Arc of the Emerald Coast

thank you from the arc

One in ten American families has a member with an intellectual developmental disability, meaning there are more than 7.5 million people in the US with a cognitive or intellectual condition. The Arc is the largest national organization advocating and serving these individuals and their families. They assist people of all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and more. Serving Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties, is the Arc of the Emerald Coast, formerly known as Horizons. Their mission is to create a path from disability to capability by providing exceptional services so people of all ages can work, play, learn, achieve personal goals, and live meaningful lives.

Offering services such as weekly in-home services, family support plans and working closely with occupational, physical, and speech therapists, The Arc of the Emerald Coast is a tremendous support for families with children birth to three that are affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. The children’s center for children ages six weeks to kindergarten offers summer programs and extended care in an inclusive environment, where children with and without developmental delays can learn, play and grow together. The Arc offers adult training centers including education, social activities, and job placement and training. 

This year’s funding of $180,000 from DCWAF completes the renovation of The Children’s Center. The renovation expanded the center’s ability to provide child care from 84 to 180 children, including an after-school program. The Children’s Center offers a hearty program for kids with large, open space, updated technology, well-stocked libraries, and interactive toys.  An aquatic center is going in next door, and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation funds will help buy specialized equipment, fund scholarships for swim lessons, and provide startup funds for the education center to be built adjacent to the pool. The education center will give The Arc of the Emerald Coast a well-designed space in which we can focus on our Birth to Three, Early Intervention services. This program is designed to provide educational support to parents of children who have been identified as having delays in at least two developmental areas. The work done with children from the ages of birth to three produces monumental, life-altering results for both the child and family. The plan calls for offices for the Early Intervention Specialists; open play space for visiting therapists; a kitchen with enough space to teach small groups cooking and nutrition; and a lending ‘library’ for specialized equipment needed by children who have disabilities. The building is safer, brighter, bigger, better equipped, and more functional. Watching children who have disabilities play, laugh, and learn side by side those who do not, affirms the generosity of the people of the supporters of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.   

“I can’t think of any human condition that can’t benefit from early intervention. The sooner a child and his family address the areas of delay the less likely those areas will cause life-long difficulty. It is not only good for the child and family but better for society as these children have less reliance on special education type services in the years to come. Early Intervention services are an excellent investment in the future of children. Without you, The Children’s Center with its unique mission and fantastic staff, is a dilapidated old building with a dwindling population. With you, it is a robust center full of life, learning, and laughter” -Dr. Julie McNabb

Published on Thursday, October 1, 2015