The Autism Society of North Carolina has opened a Social Recreation Program in Newport with funds from Trillium Health Resources.

Supporters of the facility turned out Friday for a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new building located at 113 Roberts Road in Newport.

The 3,500-aquare foot building is situated on a half-acre of property and is one of four new facilities of its kind in eastern North Carolina.

The facility will serve young people from age 4 to 22 in Craven and Carteret counties who are on the autism spectrum.

The number of children with autism has grown by one half in North Carolina in the last five years. In Craven County the number has grown from 196 in 2010 to 293 in 2016. There are 16,275 children with autism in North Carolina currently. Just five years ago there were 10,664.

According to David Laxton, of the Autism Society of North Carolina, the number of children with autism is growing in schools between 15 to 18 percent each year.

Facilities are having a hard time keeping up with the growing numbers. That is why this program is so vital.

“This has been just an amazing experience. The parents have really shown great support,” said Joey Reynolds, social recreation director at the Newport locations.  “We have a lot of unique campers with all different needs and we are able to accommodate them. The parents are very grateful. They have very limited services around here so this is something that has been needed for a very long time.”

Trillium Health Resources funded the construction of the building.

 Jennifer Mackethan, communications director with Trillium, said programs like this one are part of the company’s reinvestment plan. The facility cost about $2 million.

“All of the savings and dollars that we were able to gain from operating Medicaid so effectively we were able to then roll those into programs like this that affect the overall community at large,” said Mackethan.

These kids would otherwise not have services in this area if this program were not able to be here,” said Kerri Erb, of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

The building has a kitchen, an activity room, a sensory room, a music and movement room, an arts and crafts room, a tot spot for the little ones, a recreation room, an expansive yard with sun netting and a screen porch.

“We have an outside sensory area as well with more hands on stuff for them to manipulate,” said Reynolds.

There are 26 seasonal and four full time employees including camp counselors, activities directors, an administrative assistant, a program coordinator, an assistant director and a director.

“We’re trained in first aid and CPR for pediatrics and adults and medication administration certification process that we have to go through in order to administer medication,” said Reynolds.

The Social Recreation Summer Camp has been underway since July 4 and through mid-August 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

An after school program will start after Labor Day and will run from 2:30 to 6 p.m.

Parents can register online for the after school program at https://srp.campbrainregistration.com or call
252-658-3020.