South Florida Autism Charter Schools (SFACS) for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in West Miami-Dade has officially held its ribbon-cutting ceremony with school staff, students, Miami-Dade County government officials, and dignitaries.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, along with dignitaries and SFACS staff and students, attended the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new school on Friday morning.
The group met to dedicate the new facility in West Miami-Dade as the premier state-of-the-art facility for children and young adults on the autism spectrum.
“Anything a neurotypical child can experience, I want them to experience it here,” says school Principal and Co-Founder, Dr. Tamara Moodie
“I’m very proud of what has happened here today,” says Carvalho.
Friday’s event featured performances and speeches from students themselves, as well as the dedication of a memorial bench built to remember Brandon Rosenswag and Molly Muzillo, two former students who died from seizures. Children with autism are more likely to develop epilepsy.
“Those kids taught me so much,” adds Moodie.
The school’s opening comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as students continue to navigate measures like mask wearing, which can be particularly challenging for kids with autism or sensory processing disorders.
“We have some kids who came here at first not wearing masks, and now they’re wearing them,” says Moodie.
Along with Carvalho and Cava, dignitaries who attended the ceremony included Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernadez, and Dr. Michael Alessandri, Executive Director of the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD).
The school is part of a long-term project to offer more resources to autism families in the community, including a future center that will have speech, occupational, and physical therapy along with swimming lessons, a gym, and respite for parents with children on the spectrum.
Further plans call for a residential facility where alumni can learn to live independently, rather than living with their parents for the remainder of their lives, which often is the case for children and adults on the spectrum.
Students enrolled in K-12 may apply at any time during the school year. They also have a program for those up until the age of 22.