Rubber ducks and food trucks come together for autism

Rubber ducks and food trucks come together for autism
HealthyUNow volunteers dump 2,500 yellow rubber ducks into the St. Johns River.

Families with children diagnosed on the autism spectrum are looking at Northeast Florida for quality care, therapy and health restoration. Many took the first step on July 23 when they attended the Rubber Ducks and Food Trucks fundraiser for a Healthy Living campus envisioned for nearly 20 acres near County Road 13, southwest of World Golf Village.

Dr. Julie Buckley, who specializes in treating children with autism, founded HealthyUNow Foundation in December 2011 on the premise that autism is an environmentally induced medical illness. The Foundation’s mission to develop physical communities that support the treatment of autism for individuals and their families in a Healthy Living environment will begin with the campus in St. Johns County.

Property was purchased in June at 3800 Joe Ashton Dr., thanks to a major donation by the Lowell Sherris Foundation. The integrated care center will be sustainably built using materials that minimize exposure to substances that can be detrimental to health. Buckley estimates a “pie-in-the-sky” cost of $9 million for Phase 1 of a residential center, a wellness center and education programs.

“We believe that children on the autism spectrum are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ [highly sensitive to the environment],” said Buckley. “They need safe havens that provide comprehensive services for them and their families.”

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