The Ernie Els Centre for Autism South Africa Newsletter – August 2020

04 Aug

Latest news from The Ernie Els Centre for Autism in SA, providing lower resourced families of children on the autism spectrum with free access to effective education for their child via e-learning programs.

1. Marking Mandela Day at Els for Autism South Africa
Since Els for Autism South Africa opened its doors in 2011, we have primarily offered face-to-face services for families that have a child on the autism spectrum. Over the years, we have been fortunate to open a satellite office in Cape Town, as well as offer distance (virtual) support services to families in harder-to-reach areas. However, this year has been entirely different – and that has forced everyone to think differently and find new ways to continue delivering our services and ensure we support our families.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” – Nelson Mandela 

We have all felt the impact from this global pandemic, and many if not all of our families especially so. We have thus tried not only to adjust our services to be virtual only, but also offered, where possible, additional support to help lighten the load on our families. Thanks to our incredible sponsors and hardworking team, we have had the opportunity to offer several food vouchers for families in dire need, with the understanding that many children on the spectrum have different dietary limitations.

For Mandela Day our team worked tirelessly to ensure that our families, who have continued to work hard on our programs, received a little something extra in the form of an Els for Autism ‘stimulation pack’. Filled with fun resources (and an Els Mask), it also included printed guides for caregivers regarding new ways to teach their child.

As Mandela so wisely said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

“At Els for Autism South Africa we strive to continue providing best practice support for the Autism community of South Africa,” commented Shani Zuk, Program Director at the Ernie Els Centre for Autism, “and to continue to offer support and guidance by providing support for every family in need in the national autism community.”

2. Els For Autism South Africa Golf Series
Despite South Africa still being in national lockdown, the new regulations thankfully now allow for golf courses to re-open and operate. Thus, the planning for the Els for Autism Series 2020 is currently being altered to abide by the rules laid out, ensuring that all safety measures are maintained, as well as embracing technology and perhaps including more virtual elements than we would have initially planned.

The Els for Autism Series of golf days plays an integral part in helping many South African families affected by autism. “The golf days are a major source of income for what Els for Autism does in South Africa”, says Nico van Rensburg, The Els Group’s Business Development Manager and a long-time driving force behind the golf days. “We are fortunate to have so many great partners, despite the difficult economic times.”

As long as  the lockdown regulations continue to allow golf to be played, the series is on! We are very excited to still have a day planned in Stellenbosch, where golfers will have the opportunity to explore the newly renovated  Ernie Els Wines winery. Els for Autism South Africa is also looking forward to days at Randpark, Highland Gate, Silver Lakes, Ebotse, Leopard Creek, Wild Coast and then, of course, the final at spectacular Sun City. We’re so grateful to all of these clubs for their ongoing support.

Part of the fun remains the auctions, which have raised substantial funds for the autism awareness programme.

Spots are still available and bookings or enquiries can be sent via email to: southafrica@elsforautism.org.

3. Running for Els for Autism South Africa
Marathon enthusiast, Niel Thiart, wanted to make it his life’s mission to make people more aware of autism and indeed Els for Autism South Africa. He’s doing a great job on both fronts! Sponsored by Bestmed and Rush IV, he ran a 90km Virtual Comrades on the 14 June 2020 to raise awareness and funds for the Els for Autism SA. This did not stop him to take on the next 100-mile marathon (162.9km) on the 3, 4 and 5 July 2020. He remained committed to completing the marathon, even after sustaining an ankle injury at 90km with over 70km to go.

An impressive R6000 has been raised so far, with the intention of raising more money and awareness in the near future. He had an interview on Groot FM to also share awareness of autism and Els for Autism SA.

Niel’s passion, determination and commitment are very admirable. In his own words: “I strongly believe that people should not bury their talents and gifts, but use them to ignite other people’s lives and make a difference”.

“We want to thank Niel for his incredible efforts and for raising awareness and funds for our cause,” says Shani Zuk, Program Director at the Ernie Els Centre for Autism. “We’re thrilled that Niel will continue to run for Els for Autism South Africa and we are very grateful and excited for the future.”

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