Surrey’s Children’s Foundation has positioned itself to better support its clients by moving into the heart of Innovation Boulevard.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous advantage for us because we are much closer to the health services and I think one of the things that we have embarked on is the neuro-sequential model of therapy, which is basically looking at the brain and how trauma has affected the brain. One of the things that we’re really curious about and wanting to learn more is the brain mapping. We’re hoping we can partner up with health and eventually down the road be able to provide that.”
It has to help that Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a celebrated neuroscientist, has been helping Surrey Memorial Hospital develop advanced ways of treating patients with traumatic brain injuries.
The Children’s Foundation, in Surrey since 1994 and Vancouver since 1957, today (Wednesday, June 14), celebrates moving into the entire 10th floor in the Surrey Centre 1 building at 13737 96th Ave., across the street from Surrey Memorial Hospital, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
In Surrey alone, the non-profit society has helped more that 11,000 children and families, who are referred to the foundation by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Surrey School District and other health providers. Funded mostly by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development, the foundation bought the expansive 10th floor with assistance from Vancity Credit Union. It was previously in a building across from T-Barz nightclub, on Whalley Boulevard.
It offers family counselling, art and play therapy, works with foster parents and foster children, has specialized day programs, one-to-one childcare workers, helps foster parents, foster children and supports teens who are aging out of government care to connect to the general community. Helgi Remmelg oversees five programs herself.
The foundation is also involved with the Centre of Excellence for Childhood Neurodevelopment, a school program that focuses on trauma and attachment. “It’s a collaboration between health, school, the City, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development,” Remmelg said. “It’s for those kids who find it difficult to be in the mainstream because of the trauma that they’ve experienced. Sometimes it’s what’s happened at home, sometimes it’s things that are totally out of the family’s control.”
Asked what Surrey would be like without the Children’s Foundation, Remmelg replied, “I think that those families that struggle with some sort of trauma in their life would be having a far more difficult time.”
Surrey mom Nina Bennett and her son Dominick, age 9, are clients of the Children’s Foundation. She said her son had been struggling in school.
“He has a hard time, he’s different from the rest of the kids. I got myself into a program, the Cedarwood program, and I took a parenting class once a month there,” Bennett explained. “They’ve been really, really good with me and my son. We were on the waitlist for a couple of years and we got in recently but although we were on the waitlist they were still very proactive with the school and with myself.”
“They teach you how to parent differently because the children are different, so they give you the education you need to approach the child in an appropriate manner so they’re not getting frustrated and you’re not getting frustrated.”
“I didn’t realize until he started school that he was struggling.”
As for the Children’s Foundation’s relocation to Innovation Boulevard, Bennett said, “I like the neighbourhood a lot better. The building is a lot nicer, it’s bigger, it looks very fresh, it’s inviting. My son got really excited, coming from one building to the next.”