VIDEO: Parker Foundation Offers Hope for Parents and Opportunities for Children With Autism
By Steve Wilson. Space Coast Daily // January 1, 2018
Foundation offers group support and resources
ABOVE VIDEO: Steve Wilson of the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily speaks with Melissa Parker of the Parker Foundation about what the organization does for children, and the parents of children, diagnosed with autism.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — When your child is diagnosed with autism, what do you do? Where do you go? Who do you see?
These are questions that need to be answered for parents who are looking for guidance to help their child battle this disorder. Brevard County is fortunate there are organizations in the community that offer therapy, but only up to a certain age.
There is also a need for organizations that deal primarily with group support and resources.
Enter The Parker Foundation.
The Parker Foundation was created in 2015 by Ted and Melissa Parker of Melbourne. When their son, Brendan, “aged-out,” the couple felt the need to step up and create an organization that helped children continue to grow and move forward.
Both have been leaders in the community for a long time, so when the West Melbourne Little League contacted them about creating a Challenger League, the Parkers were all over it. They saw an opportunity for those with autism to be involved with sports; to be a part of a group.
The excitement of having the entire family participate was perfect. Not only did those with autism play ball, but their siblings did as well. One of the things cofounder Melissa Parker is most proud of with the foundation is the inclusion of the siblings.
“The activities are not a drop-off, it’s a real family bonding experience,” said Melissa Parker. “And, the families want to be there.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Ted and Melissa Parker won the 2017 Dancing for the Space Coast competition hosted by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The competition not only judges contestants on how well they perform on the dance floor but how much money they raise for their charity.
The Parker Foundation is well known for hosting sports clinics for children. However, the foundation offers so much more than sports. Education and the arts also play a big part in what they do.
Through their “Speak Through Education” program, they collaborate with other organizations and professionals to sponsor and coordinate educational training and awareness initiatives for families, teachers, law enforcement, first responders and the public.
The Parker Foundation is heavily involved with teaching children safety. In fact, they recently collaborated with Spring Forward for Autism, and University of Central Florida C.A.R.D. (Centers for Autism Related Disabilities) to create an app that provides a full spectrum of resources and education for safety, wandering and response. This app, “Be Safe Be Prepared,” can be downloaded at no charge.
According to Parker, education is critically important, because it allows those to “better understand the families, and where they are coming from.”
When asked what she considers to be rewarding in her work, Parker said it is the fact that it “brings hope to families, seeing their children overcome barriers. It’s all about hope. Every child is different. And, with a little bit of love and support, they can make it so much farther.”
Yes, Ted and Melissa Parker are leaders in the community – the best kind; they lead by example.
Dancing the Cha-Cha, Ted and Melissa won the 2017 Dancing for the Space Coast competition hosted by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The competition not only judged contestants on how well they performed on the dance floor but how much money they raised for their charity.
The couple raised more than $44,000 for The Parker Foundation prior to the event. Ted and Melissa spend countless hours volunteering their time with the children. There is no cost for a family to participate in the activities.
For the Parkers, it’s all about the children and their families. This day and age, that’s about as good as it gets.
CLICK HERE for more information or call 321-409-4696.
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