NICEVILLE, Fla. – Emerald Coast Autism Center is hosting a public groundbreaking event for its Emerald Coast Learning Center, a new building to be located directly next to the Emerald Coast Autism Center on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, according to an announcement today by the Emerald Coast Autism Center.
The groundbreaking is Wednesday, June 8, 2022, starting at 5 p.m.
The new facility will provide a safe, structured learning environment for the nonprofit’s Transition-to-Work (TTW) program and its academic classrooms, the Emerald Coast Autism Center (ECAC) said.
The Transition-to-Work program is a pre-vocational program designed to teach older students job skills for future employment.
“Transition-to-Work is a great opportunity for our clients,” said Patrick Mills, BCBA, ECAC Transition to Work Coordinator,
“Each day our students practice vocational skills that will help prepare them for meaningful employment. The program focuses on independence, social skills development, and frequent changing of routines, to better assist in the transitions to the workforce.”
The new 20,000-square-foot building, which will be connected to the current facility, will offer specialized facilities for vocational training such as a commercial kitchen, laundry facility, Light It Up Brew (the organization’s student-run coffee shop), car wash, and more, the ECAC said.
Transition-to-Work students will continue practicing job skills in-house before transitioning to campus or other community partner job sites.
The learning center will also house several academic classrooms for students on track to graduate from ECAC and continue with their education at other local public or private schools.
Currently, students work on campus in the following departments: Receiving (mail sorting and campus vehicle washing), Kay Litke Culinary Arts Greenhouse (planting, harvesting, and maintenance), Athletic Facilities (cleaning and organizing facilities), and the Mattie Kelly Arts Center (ushering at performances).
The organization has plans to focus its current facility on younger students receiving one-to-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services.
More information about Emerald Coast Autism Center, including the organization’s services and ways to support the cause, can be found at www.ecautismcenter.org or by calling 850-279-3000.