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Els for Autism – Foundations Around the World

About our Canada, UK and South Africa Foundations

By Merrick Egber

Many people who know about Els for Autism are familiar with our Foundation in the United States, headquartered in Jupiter, Florida. It is where I am based out of and it is where most of our team is based out of. While we have talked about our virtual footprint being international, what if I told you that our physical one is international too?

For this blog article, I will profile our three other Foundations, located in Canada, the UK and South Africa. I will list the importance of each with a short bio and regard of an important board member who presides over the Foundational activities of each.


Els for Autism Canada

Web Site:

Function: Els for Autism Canada raises funds through Golf Challenge tournaments.  This year they have four events: Vancouver (June 21st), Toronto (July 20th) Calgary (August 9th) and Panorama (August 16th).   All funds raised at the tournaments are given back to the community to support various autism programs. Sometimes they partner with autism centers and utilize the expertise and experiences from the Els for Autism Foundation, USA to share and introduce new programs. 

Measure of Success:

They are very proud of the fact that they have surpassed $1,200,000 of support for Canadian autism organizations since their inception in 2013. They have accomplished this with the help of our sponsors and participants. They run Els for Autism Canada with two volunteer board members (Gary Chiste and Conrad Drapeau) and have just added a third – Randall Shapkin.

Focus Towards the Future:

This year, during the Summer, Strides Toronto and the Shining Through Centre (With funding made possible by Els for Autism Canada), and Els for Autism South Africa are collaborating with the Els for Autism Foundation to bring the successful RUBI (Research Units in Behavioral Intervention) program in a telehealth group setting for the very first time on a multi-site basis. This is very useful during these Covid-19 restrictive times where parents are taught various techniques to support their young children with ASD when faced with various behavioral challenges. This multi-site telehealth group study will extend our research on the use of the RUBI program. For free, eligible families will be in group sessions facilitated by a highly qualified Clinical Team Member with certified experience in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), and Mental Health Counseling.

They are also engaged with various organizations and working towards getting young adults prepared for the workforce and having businesses and organizations prepared and ready to employ them and support them throughout their careers.  Moving forward, this is going to be one of the main priorities that Els for Autism Canada will focus on.

Bio of Source – Board Member Conrad Drapeau:

Conrad Drapeau is a bestselling author and the creator of Shatterproof, a simple yet life-altering and sustainable program designed to help people manage stress, survive crisis, and build resiliency.  Over a 25-year span, Conrad worked in various business development capacities in the I.T. industry.  A successful entrepreneur who played a significant role in taking an under-funded technology company from zero to $100 million in value in less than five years.  He is also a board member for Els for Autism Canada.  Having a grandson on the autism spectrum fuels his passion in wanting to help people on the spectrum to establish a meaningful life through work and career.

Els for Autism UK

Web Site: None

Function: The focus of the Foundation is to raise money to support organizations in the UK that provide services to individuals with ASD. The primary support provided thus far has been in funding the Ernie Els #GameON Autism ™ Golf program in England and in Ireland through our Official Program Providers (OPPs) in those countries.

Measure of Success:

One of our OPPs through financial support by the UK branch of Els for Autism is the Golf Trust – which has been profiled on our most current Podcast. Due to our ongoing support for the organization, they have been able to hold a program that has lasted for four years with thousands of participants who have been a part of the Ernie Els #GameON Autism ™  12-week program and marked improvements in the lives of those who have taken part in them.

In Ireland, the organization UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the partnership of the Institute of Technology in Tralee, Ireland, conducted the program for the first time in 2018, with 10 new participants.  Els for Autism was recognized by CARA/Sport Ireland –  for an Inclusion Award following this program.  ITT UNESCO, as the partnership has been christened, (now a part of Munster Technological University) has been invited to bring a group of our golfers to the British Open in Portrush, to take part in a tri-golf event at the Open on Wed. 17th July!

So far in 2019, ITT UNESCO completed a 6-week program, that met twice weekly.  This program had 8 participants, one PGA coach, two Dept of Health and Leisure/UNESCO staff members, three Health & Leisure students on work placement, and golfing parents.  The data from the program was provided to us in the form of pre and post assessments (the same ones The Golf Trust will now use).  The data assesses:

  • Fitness skills:  standing long jump, plank, individual leg balance
  • Golf Assessment:  grip, aim, towards, target, posture, distance control
  • Social-communication-emotional-motor skills

The fitness skills show an increase in distance, time, and compliance with task.  The golf assessment shows improvements by participants.  When looking at the information regarding social-communication-emotional-motor skills, each participant improved in at least one area.

Informal Observation of the pre and post tests showed improvements in participant’s fitness, golf skills, and social communication skills; however, qualitative studies would produce specific results in each of these areas.   

Focus Towards the Future: There are plans for support of a school in England that will mirror The Els Center of Excellence in the US, but plans are in a very early stage.

Bio of Source – Board Member Lady Susan Lampl: Lady Susan Lampl has been a board member of Els for Autism UK and Els for Autism Canada after serving for three years as Executive Director of Els for Autism US. Lady Lampl joined Els for Autism shortly after it was founded in 2009 and worked closely with Ernie and Liezl to develop the Els for Autism Foundation and The Center of Excellence in Jupiter as well as projects to ensure its financial success such as the Els for Autism Golf Challenge. Prior to that Lady Lampl was a television news anchor/reporter/producer for two decades in NY, Boston and Pittsburgh as well as a board member of a variety of institutions on Long Island.

Els for Autism South Africa

Web Site:

Social Media:


They believe that every child with ASD has the potential to learn and that every family member plays an important role in teaching the child with ASD in a way that will best allow the child to learn. 

Their goal is to provide best practice support, services, and guidance, that will allow lower-resourced families of children with ASD to effective treatment and management. Els for Autism – South Africa is a Not-for-Profit Organization, which offers parent training free of charge. Their programs focus on a variety of areas from daily living, playing, leisure, social and emotional skills, plus the understanding of language, communication, and academic competencies. Each session is designed to promote parents’ independence using online tools.

They currently offer three different types of parent-led supports:

  1. short-term parent coaching approach,
  2. longer term parent-led intervention, and
  3. monthly group meetings,

Measure of Success:

Since 2011, they have been successful at having a wide-range program that is headquartered in Braamfontein, Gauteng with a second office at the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (University of Cape Town), in Rondebosch, Cape Town. They’ve been able to run our Ernie Els #GameON Autism Golf Clinics at each of their Golf Challenge events and the full 12-week programming partnership with autism schools.

Focus Towards the Future: They want to continue to meet the needs of the individuals and their families residing in South Africa, while still ensuring quality and evidence-based support. This includes adapting to more online support during COVID based restrictions, as well as possible school-based trainings.

Bio of Source – Board Member – Shani Zuk

Shani Lits (née Zuk) is the current program director at Els for Autism – South Africa. Shani has worked as a part of the Els for Autism – South African team for 8 years.
She qualified with a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2011. She then pursued a more specialized focus within the field of special needs, studying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through the Florida Institute of Technology. This allowed her to become a Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst, making her one of only three BCBA’s (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) in South Africa.