A new centre in Richmond is providing first-of-its-kind support for families affected by autism spectrum disorder and other related disorders.
Premier Christy Clark joined staff of the Pacific Autism Family Network to cut the ribbon on the GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub Wednesday afternoon.
Hundreds of donors, and family and friends of network co-founders Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia got a look inside the new facility that supports those living with a disorder that effects up to 69,000 people in B.C.
The 60,000-square-foot space includes clinics, labs, classrooms, observation rooms, and information kiosks, and is home to the Variety Children’s Treatment Centre.
“Families need one phone number, one website, one place to start,” Wendy told the crowd.
Construction crews broke ground two years ago, after Wendy and Sergio created the network to raise money.
Large donations include $20 million from the province, $5 million from GoodLife Fitness, and $100,000 from LifeLabs to support an easier blood collection program. Those with autism often find it traumatic to draw blood.
Members of the Mayday Club Youth Choir for Autism Advocacy were on hand to sing the national anthem in the centre’s auditorium.
Nicole Provost, who directs the Abbotsford-based group made up of youth on the autism spectrum, calls the new facility “special.”
“(It will) fulfill a need in B.C. that hasn’t been filled previously,” she said.