The Centre for Child Development is celebrating 70 years of helping special needs children in the Lower Mainland.
The centre was incorporated as a non-profit in 1954 but its inception actually happened a year prior.
Judith Reaugh, the vice president of communications and governance, said the organization started as a grass-roots group made up of parents in living rooms. The centre saw a need for children with cerebral palsy who needed transportation to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver. From there, the Centre for Child Development was born.
The centre provides patient-focused, wrap-around services for children with disabilities in the South Fraser region. The facility’s mission statement, as stated on its website is, “helping children with special needs reach their potential.” It does this in a number of different ways. Depending on the child’s needs, the centre has access to physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, a speech therapist and many other specialists.
Based in Surrey, the centre serves nearly 4,000 children each year through more than 30,000 sessions at more than 350 locations – including inside schools – in Surrey, White Rock, Delta, and Langley. Many of the staff have worked at the centre for decades.
“It speaks a lot to the organization that you have so many people who’ve been here for so long,” said Reaugh.
Karen Edwards, vice-president of medical rehabilitation services, has worked at the centre for 32 years.
“Our (health care) system, in general, is very piecemeal,” Edwards said. “So if you have any type of disability, trying to find the services you need can be a real challenge and I think it’s really an advantage, to come to a place where it’s all in one spot.”
The centre also has a pool that has lifts to help children with physical disabilities. The feedback they have received from parents about the pool has been very positive.
“One parent said this is the only space, the only pool, where my kid hasn’t screamed because it’s not as overwhelming as a large noisy, really stimulating community pool would be,” said Reaugh.
Judy Mann, vice president of business development, recalls the story of a child who was non-verbal and wanted to enter a speech therapy contest at school.
“They actually put a device on his foreheads so he was able to, from his forehead, be able to type a speech,” Mann said.
The student went up on stage, where his speech was read out for him. He won the speech therapy contest that day.
Mann added that staff at the centre find innovative ways where the kids “can actually participate like any other kid.”
While the majority of funding for the facility comes from the provincial government, it does have programs that are specifically funded by donors. The money is raised through three annual fundraisers.
The Run, Walk and Roll is a family-friendly event that will take place on June 4 at South Surrey Athletic Park. For more information on the Centre for Child Development, visit the-centre.org.
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