Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) announced that it’s adding a 16th organization to its lineup of supported Northwest Florida children’s charities.

Westonwood Ranch, a new nonprofit designed to fill the gap in transition services as young adolescents affected by autism enter adulthood, is located in Freeport and slated to open its doors in April of 2019.

“Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is proud to welcome Westonwood Ranch as one of our supported charitable organizations,” said DCWAF President John Russell. “We appreciate the unique opportunity to assist organizations at the earliest stage of formation. We see in the Westonwood Ranch team the same passion and drive to make a difference in the lives of children in need as exists in all of the DCWAF supported charities. Westonwood Ranch is the next step in providing support to families and individuals as they face the challenge of autism.”

The mission of Westonwood Ranch is to provide a nurturing farm-based environment for students with special needs to explore their full capacities and pave the way for productive, independent living. Benefits of utilizing a holistic farmstead model include opportunities for self-paced, diverse learning activities that are tailored to individual interest and skill level.

Westonwood Ranch emphasizes the importance of learning by “doing,” utilizing an applied behavioral therapy approach to teach functional academics, personal and social skills, independent living and vocational skills. The heart of the program is rooted in the creation of an environmentally friendly, sustainable business enterprise which also serves as a valuable learning tool for students. With programs such as aquaponics farming, greenhouse farming of organic produce and production of Westonwood brand sauces, the opportunities for hands-on learning and job training is robust. Underscoring their commitment to a holistic approach to learning, Westonwood Ranch will also offer extra-curricular activities that promote socialization and enhanced self -esteem including art, music, recreational fitness, and therapeutic equine activities.

“Westonwood Ranch is honored and humbled to have the opportunity to partner with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.” said Westonwood Ranch Founder and CEO Lindy Wood. "Not only on behalf of Westonwood Ranch, but as a mother of an 8-year-old little boy with severe autism, there is no way to fully express my gratitude to DCWAF and their loyal supporters. The life trajectory of so many children in need are being changed for the better in our community thanks to DCWAF. At Westonwood Ranch, we feel blessed to be a part of this change.”