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Mother of son with autism opens Tampa Bay area camp for kids just like him

Freedom Sailing Camp is a nonprofit offering year-round fun
Posted at 11:01 AM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 12:01:43-04

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — Before Bonnie Monroe started a boating camp for kids with autism, she was just a mom trying to inspire her son.

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“We wanted to get Mark into something outside of our home,” says Bonnie of her son, who has autism. “So he started sailing, and he loved it. His self-esteem skyrocketed.”

But when Bonnie couldn’t find enough boating opportunities for Mark, she took a giant step…into the water herself.

She learned to sail – and kayak, and paddleboard – and learned how to run a nonprofit.

The Freedom Sailing Camp now teaches kids with autism all over the Tampa Bay area.

“It’s great to see them do stuff that they’ve never done before,” says Bonnie. “And that’s the point. Getting these kids out of their comfort zone and doing something different and exploring the world that’s outside their bedroom.”

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