Northwest Center for Autism Lauded by Genoa, IL Chamber of Commerce
The city of Genoa and Camelot’s Northwest Center for Autism are turning out to be a beautiful match. Camelot moved the NWCA campus to Genoa at the start of the school year and has so quickly become part of the community that the local Chamber of Commerce recognized Camelot during this year’s Excellence Awards ceremony in February.
“This award is an indicator to us that the way we integrated ourselves into the community was successful for our school and our students,” said Theresa Mortl Smith, Camelot VP and head of therapeutic day schools. “Our connection to the communities where our schools are located is so important, especially for our older students who are seeking job placements that align to their IEP goals to prepare them for post-secondary success. It’s really rewarding to receive this type of acknowledgment from the Chamber and I think it reflects our ability to build critical relationships.”
Krissy Johnson, Genoa Chamber of Commerce Associate Director, recognized Camelot’s contribution to the city.
“They work with several local businesses and form partnerships so that students can obtain job skills and work. They employ over 90 teachers. We are proud to give our very first Excellence Award to Camelot Northwest Center for Autism.”
NWCA serves children from Genoa as well as many more from the surrounding communities but the members of city council, the school district and the chamber have supported Camelot as if all the students are local.
Ms. Mortl Smith said a lot of the credit for building these relations goes to NWCA Principal Niamh (pronounced Neev) Welp, who has been with Camelot for 12 years, starting as a school therapist and growing from there.
“She is so invested in the community and these critical partnerships, Mortl Smith said. “She genuinely values the people in Genoa. She took our cause and ran with it. In addition, she has a profound love for children – and working with children with autism in particular – and she’s doing an incredible job.”
“I am personally and professionally so honored to see this happen because we have been able to put in programming that has been part of our goals,” Mortl Smith said.
Camelot has installed an indoor play space and a motor room in a small gym-size space, added an early learning center and grown its adult (18-22) program since moving to Genoa. The new features are proving so beneficial to teachers and students that Camelot plans to do the same thing at other Camelot schools in Illinois. But for now, Mortl Smith says the recognition in Genoa is very meaningful.
“This award may say as much about the business and civic leaders in Genoa as it does Camelot. Caring about and welcoming children with disabilities is a special community quality.”