The Commemorative Air Force’s Minnesota Wing recently hosted a group of guests from Erik’s Ranch & Retreats, a premier residence and workplace for adults with autism, giving one of the group’s members, Ricky, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of World War II, a chance to demonstrate his prodigious talent.
Erik’s Ranch has recently launched its My Genuine Genius program, calling for parents of children or young adults with autism to submit videos of their child displaying their unique “Genuine Genius.” THe videos will be posted to the My Genuine Genius website as part of a project aimed at expanding the view on what is “normal.” While autism has been in the news frequently in the past months surrounding legislation on insurance coverage, this project will focus on the gifts and talents of young people living with autism. Many young people with autism have found a passion and a gift for art, history, math, athletics or any number of activities. My Genuine Genius will showcase the vast variety of talents this population collectively possesses.
The nonprofit also offers Erik’s Minnesota Adventures, a program that allows young adults with autism to work as tour guides leading volunteer guests on exciting and unique adventures throughout the Twin Cities. The tours range from horseback trail rides to the Irish culture of St. Paul, which features Celtic dancing lessons, whiskey tastings and a historical tour of St. Paul. Residential programs are also in development in Edina, Minnesota and near Bozeman, Montana, where a tour program will also be launched.
Ricky, aged 25 took volunteer guests on a tour of the CAF Minnesota Wing’s museum facility located in a WWII-era hangar at Fleming Field in South St Paul, Minnesota, providing him the opportunity to put his talent on display, teaching those on the tour about warbirds and the Second World War.