On April 23, the Lightning Foundation awarded grants to 16 local organizations totaling $120,500 at the Community Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. Grant applicants were asked to detail their organizations and give a proposed program or project, along with a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation's funding guidelines. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected the 16 organizations.
Tampabaylightning.com is profiling each of the organizations and the grant they received. Check back daily for a new organization and see how the Lightning Foundation is truly fulfilling its mission to make Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play.
Laurel Nokomis School of Sarasota County
Continuing with its mission to help enrich the lives of children living in the Tampa Bay area, the Lightning Foundation awarded a grant to the Laurel Nokomis School of Sarasota County.
Laurel Nokomis School is a kindergarten through eighth grade school with a special autistic program. Principal Nancy Dubin said children with autism get bused in from surrounding schools to take advantage of their program.
The grant awarded by the Lightning Foundation will go toward funding a Sensory Therapy Motor Room and playground for autistic students. The grant will aid in the purchase of sensory blankets, pillows, chairs, tents, mats, swings and music packs, among other things.
"Small children with autism often need that one-on-one, that physical stimulation," Dubin said. "They need to learn how their bodies are in space, but traditional P.E. classes don't work for them.
"In this safe environment, the kids can really get a good workout and explore their gross motor skills," she said.
The equipment in the Motor Room, as teachers and staff like to call it, aims at providing the children with an awareness about their body position. They use things like bouncing balls, trampolines and tunnels to work on developing their motor skills. The school should have around 20 autistic children attending Laurel Nokomis next year and benefiting from the program.
Dubin said the school is incredibly grateful for the grant from the Lightning Foundation because it gives them a chance to stay on par with other, more established programs throughout the area and throughout the country.
"We were so grateful because the state gives you money for autistic programs, but it's not enough to add extra things on like the Motor Room, which makes such a difference," she said. "We were really eager to have our program be as complete as the others, so this gave us a huge boost."