(WIS) - Giving kids with diagnoses on the autism spectrum the chance to make their voices heard: that's the goal of the two recipients of our latest Community Builders in partnership with Mungo Homes.
David and Karissa Cockrell started Camp T.A.L.K ten years ago when they recognized a need within their own family and within other families they knew.
It's an inclusive social skills day camp for children ages 10 and up who have a diagnosis of Autism, Autism Level 1 or PDD-NOS.
"This is meant to be a safe place where they come and they're accepted and they're loved and they make friends," David said. "It's a place to belong, share some life experiences with your friends and meet new friends. It's something outside of doctor's appointments and school and IEP meetings."
The Cockrells say they focus on social skills and building friendships through field trips, team building games, guest speakers, music, movements and crafts.
"We're kayaking this week, we bowl, we take lots of field trips, we've been in a hot air balloon before, we've taken airplane rides before. We go on the train," Karissa said. "Whatever we can find to do that might be fun or exciting or new or push them out of their comfort zone, that's what we try to do."
The day WIS went to visit, the kids were doing choreographed dances, playing sensory-sensitive games and even doing the limbo!
Matt Mungo with Mungo Homes surprised the Cockrells at camp.
The Cockrells now receive a $1,000 donation that will go straight back to Camp T.A.L.K to help fund field trips and in-camp activities for the kids. Camp is held each June and July at Willow Ridge Church in Lexington.
The woman who nominated the couple, Debbie Scott, said when she saw the Community Builder award on WIS, she knew that the Cockrells would be perfect candidates.
"I see behind the scenes all the things they do," Scott said. "They say they start in February getting ready, raising money, planning field trips... and getting everything organized. But no, this is their whole life."
If you'd like to nominate someone in your community, go to the Community Builder tab on wistv.com. To learn more about Camp T.A.L.K, visit their website here.