Engaging Programs for Individuals on the Spectrum
What We Do
The mission of Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (FACT) is to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. FACT proudly provides recreational programs designed to enhance the socialization and communication skills of individuals with autism. FACT offers activities that are adaptable for any ability level or age. Our programs are led by knowledgeable, experienced staff and augmented by the participation of non-disabled peers.
Tracking Our Growth:
FACT was created by committed parents and community leaders as a nonprofit organization. FACT welcomed their camp director Pam Clendenen, and Camp Gonnawannagoagin’s summer program was launched and served 20 children for two weeks.
FACT began year-round services in addition to camp. The number of students attending camp increased to 100 students over a period of four weeks. A winter session of camp and family-centered monthly socials began and Teen Night was established for students seeking ongoing social interactions with peers.
Tween Time was created to serve middle school-aged students. Summer camp served 240 students.
FACT hosts Gonnawannabowlagin’ with two ten-week bowling leagues in the fall and winter. With a generous grant from the Virginia Beach Youth Services Club, FACT hosted an I Can Shine bike camp, a one-week clinic that teaches children with disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
FACT began collaborating with Friends School and hosting our programs, including summer camp, on their campus and offering athletic programs including basketball, soccer, and baseball to teach basic skills and teamwork.
FACT serves more than 400 individuals with autism each year—hosting three seasonal camps, four sports leagues, three different ongoing monthly social programs, a variety of leisure programs that include fine and performing arts as well as life skills, and five Family Fun Days each year.
Meet The Staff
Tyler Williamson Executive Director
Tyler's younger brother Brian was one of the first children with autism to attend Camp Gonnawannagoagin'. He is a former Camp Counselor and has been a member of the Board since 2018. After practicing law for 6 years in Hampton Roads, he decided to follow his passion and joined FACT as its new Executive Director in 2020. Tyler oversees the organization’s programs, fundraising, and special events.
Edna Vega Executive Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper
Edna started out as a helpful, engaged parent volunteer and has become a dynamic component of our team. She tracks income and expenses, maintains databases, manages the office, and assists with special projects and events.
Sheri Bragg Program Director
Sheri began volunteering when she was nine years old. She recently took on the role of Program Director in charge of designing, implementing, and creating programs. Sheri is an experienced special educator and the perfect combination of professionalism and compassion.
Jessie Pitts Assistant Camp Director
Jessie began as a camp counselor in 2008. He is currently an Assistant Camp Director, Social Club Supervisor, and Leisure Programs Coordinator. Jessie is a remarkable parent liaison and has a true gift for developing rapport with children with autism. He is invaluable to our programs.
MEET THE BOARD
The FACT Board of Directors is made up of a dedicated group of individuals with a broad array of backgrounds and experiences, ranging from parents of children with autism and business leaders in the Hampton Roads area.