Founded in 2017 by the Wood Family, Westonwood Ranch offers a farm-based learning program for individuals with autism and related developmental disorders. Westonwood’s program design revolves around the creation of self-sustaining small business enterprises. A commercial scale aquaponic greenhouse will be among the first enterprises implemented on the ranch.
Inspired by their 7 year old son Weston, who was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of 2, the pre-planned learning program for individuals with developmental disorders will be unlike anything in the Florida Panhandle. Its unique curriculum was formed with much influence from Emerald Coast Autism Center, who also had concerns about the “next step” for their growing population of students.
“It seems logical that a holistic program such as this take place in a calm, quiet therapeutic environment like a farm,” says Lindy Wood, mother of Weston. “There are so many avenues for hands on learning without the social pressures.” Program participants will have the opportunity to participate in activities to identify their strengths, skills, talents, interest and learn how that skill acquisition will translate to work.
The basis of the program design revolves around the creation of self-sustaining small business enterprises. The diverse learning curriculum at Westonwood Ranch will include aquaponic farming, landscape gardening and maintenance, ranch maintenance, animal husbandry and culinary skills. A commercial scale aquaponic greenhouse will be among the first enterprises implemented on the ranch. The enriched extra-curricular activities include equine assisted therapy, art instruction, wood-making, creative fitness initiatives and dance classes in the fitness center, and nature hikes. Although the day skills training program will be geared towards older youth, many of the extracurricular groups will be available to young children in the form of “after school” programs and summer programming.
To learn more about Westonwood Ranch please visit their website. The mission is ever-evolving with constant need of donations and volunteers. To donate, click here. You can also follow Westonwood Ranch on their Facebook page for updates and events. Westonwood Ranch is located in Freeport, off Highway 20.