KidsAbility offers special needs youth many helpful services

In 1999, my daughter, Laur­en, was born with special needs.

Prior to that, I knew nothing about children with special needs and how they and their families are supported. A few months after Lauren’s birth, we were referred to an agency called KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, an ac­credit­ed, charitable organiza­tion established in 1957 to help children with their develop­ment in order that they can re­alize their individual potential.

If you have never heard of KidsAbility, it is an agency in Guelph-Wellington County pro­viding occupational thera­py, physiotherapy, social work and therapeutic recreation ser­vices to children from birth until eligible for senior kinder­garten.

 So what does that mean to families in the community?  Simply put, KidsAbility is a wel­coming, caring and sup­port­ive organization that gives individualized clinical therapy for a child.

Occupational therapy aims to promote, maintain or restore performance in the areas of self-care, productivity and leisure. That includes activi­ties related to personal care, mobil­ity, play, school, home, and community management, rec­re­ation and socialization.

Physiotherapy aims to promote, maintain or restore gross motor skills and func­tional ambulation. It focuses on the development of head and trunk control, muscle power in the legs and feet, joint stability and integrity, alleviating pain, skin care and the use of as­sistive devices to promote func­tional sitting, standing and independent walking with or without aids.

Social work services pro­vide a range of preventative, supportive, educational and clin­ical counselling opportu­nities that aim to enhance the child and family’s ability to deal more successfully with their circumstances.

Therapeutic recreation pro­motes leisure lifestyle develop­ment through a variety of in­di­vidual, family and group inter­ventions. It focuses on devel­op­ing community leisure partner­ships, to ensure that their programs are inclusive of and meet the needs of children and youth with special needs.

In 2001, I was pleased to become part of the KidsAbility Guelph-Wellington team as their program secretary. I looked forward to giving some­thing back to the organization that wrapped itself around us and supported my daughter through her preschool years.  Now that Lauren is in school, she takes advantage of the many groups and programs KidsAbility offers to school agers in order to enhance her recreational, social and inde­pen­dence skills. 

In addition to secretarial responsibilities, I recently ac­cep­ted the position of com­munity relations coordinator, and am now an even busier mom.

Wearing two different hats; one as a mother of a child with special needs and the other as a member of KidsAbility’s team provides me with a unique perspective and understanding of the families we serve and their individual needs. In my new job, I will raise awareness of KidsAbility in our commu­nity at large; to people and organizations who are not dir­ect­ly connected with Kids­Ability but whose influence, perspective and support is need­ed in order for KidsAbility to be effective in its mission, vision and values.

I want to help them to understand and support our pro­grams and services, by promoting the important work we do. We need to reach the fam­i­lies, children and teen­ag­ers who need us, but who don’t yet know about our services.   Are you a business owner or do you know of organizations that may be willing to partner with us or sponsor our program and or events?  Call me; I’d love to hear from you.  

If you have a concern about a child’s development, call KIDS LINE at 519-846-2715 or 1-800-265-7293 extension 3616, as of January 2009.  Until then, call 1-888-372-2259 extension 214. We are here to help.

For more information con­tact Caroline Davidson, Com­mu­nity Relations Coordinator at 519-780-0186 extension 238 or by email  cdavidson@­kids­