Inaugural open house heightens awareness of autism services’ reach, languages capability
Though a blanket of rain hung heavy through the day, the creative and fun-loving spirits of a posAbilities team of staff and families prevailed during a recent fundraising walk for autism supports and research.
A posAbilities team of 12 joined the sixth annual Vancouver Walk Now for Autism Speaks Sept. 29 at Stanley Park. The walk raises money to support family services programs and initiatives, as well as to heighten awareness about autism and the issues facing the local and national autism communities.
Walk Now for Autism Speaks is intended to be a fun-filled, family friendly event , according to an event description. To help with that, posAbilities Laurel Behaviour Support Services and Lifeskills team manager Jennifer Oliver and several of her team mates dressed up as Disney characters. Most of them were princesses.
Their costumes attracted the eager interest of young children who came up to be photographed with them and also talk about their love of all things Disney. The posAbilities booth also offered a chance for children to create a few Disney-related items, including fairy wands. It did turn out to be a lot of fun, says Jennifer in sum.
In total, the team raised about $700, which will be donated to Autism Speaks Canada.
Another event just three days before had a bit of a different spirit, but was also successful, Jennifer says.
On Sept. 26, Laurel Behaviour Support Services held two different sessions of an open house. Families and professionals from a broad range of local organizations, including recreation centres and other family service agencies were invited.
The open house was held to raise awareness of Laurel Behaviour Support Services, which exists to provide support, advocacy and service to children and families living with autism and other developmental disabilities.
A board-certified behaviour analyst from the Burnaby School District, Nadine Trottier, and Geri Briggs, supervisor for Recreation Services for the City of Coquitlam, were also present to speak with families and professionals.
Jennifer says she was very pleased with the turnout. She was especially glad to see University of British Columbia special education program professors as they are at the front-lines of developing those who enter the field. “To stay in the forefront with those professionals is important to us as well,” she says.
Those who came appeared to be most interested to see the extent of Laurel Behaviour Support Services’ reach, which is the entire Lower Mainland.
There also seemed to significant interest in the fact that posAbilities offers these services in a broad range of languages, including Mandarin, Punjabi, Hindi, Cantonese and French. “For new families to Vancouver and to Canada, providing them a service in their own language is a significant benefit,” Jennifer says.
The open house was an inaugural event, but Jennifer adds she sees benefit in hosting it on an ongoing basis.
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