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Reach Society plan new home in Ladner
There was a time when many of the young people who pass through the doors at the Reach Child and Youth Development Society in Delta would have fallen through the cracks.
The non-profit agency helps children with developmental disabilities - such as Down syndrome, autism, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) - giving them the skills to succeed in life and reach their full potential. Generations ago, those deemed “slow” had few prospects in life, and even less support.
“Some of these children have tremendous potential, and often have high IQs” says Cathy Nidoski, Reach’s communications director. “But without support, they don’t get the skills to function.”
That can lead to those with developmental problems to withdraw from life, which in turn leads to depression, and often a life of crime and substance abuse. Much of the society’s work focuses on developing social skills, something Nidoski says impacts every aspect of a client’s life.
“How they interact with their friends, their family, in the workplace, how they communicate, social skill development strengthens all other area of their life.”
Services include therapy for children with autism, counselling services, preschools for children with special needs as well as children who are developing typically, programs for teens with special needs, therapies, respite, support groups for parents of children with ADHD or behavioural challenges, workshops, specialized lending and equipment libraries and more.
By giving children with developmental disabilities the skills to live independently, they don’t become a burden on the healthcare or criminal justice system, says Reach’s executive director Renie D’Aquilla.
“For every dollar that goes into programs like this, you save $5,” she says.
The society’s present home was built as an agricultural training centre more than 40 years ago, and leaves much to be desired. Located at the south end of 72nd Avenue, past the Boundary Bay Airport, the facility is miles away from the nearest bus route and doesn’t have so much as a sidewalk leading to it.
“If you think you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, then you know you’re almost here,” says Nidoski.
As a result, if children want to access services at Reach Child and Youth Development Society, they need to be driven there, and for many parents, that can create a barrier to access.
Reach has just launched a fundraising campaign to build a new facility in the heart of downtown Ladner on land donated by the Corporation of Delta. The new 20,000-square-foot facility will cost more than $4 million to build, and will increase the society’s overall space by 60 per cent. Unlike the Reach’s current facility, their new home will be open to the public, with a community hall and community-access kitchen incorporated into the design. The new children’s centre will replace the current Ladner Kinsmen House at 47th Avenue, neighbouring the Pioneer Library, Memorial Park, Delta Secondary School, Ladner Community Centre and other community services like the Boys and Girls Club, creating a network of supports working together for children and families.
Currently, Reach Child and Youth Development Society serves 800 to 1,000 clients annually, and with 60 per cent more space, they hope to expand their programs to offer help for children with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Being located in downtown Ladner will improve access for after school programs, as older children will be able to walk to Reach, and make it easier for parents without transportation However, Reach has a long way to go to reach their fundraising goal, and the society is hoping to kick off their efforts Saturday, Feb. 23, with their Reach for the Stars: An Evening of Inspiration fundraiser. The event will be hosted by Global TV anchorman Chris Gailus. Nidoski says Reach is hoping to raise $30,000 for the event.
“This is the first time we’ve ever put together an event of this size, so we’re keeping our expectations modes,” she says. The event takes place at 6 p.m. at Sacred Heart School, 3900 Arthur Dr., Ladner, and includes a buffet dinner, speakers, live and silent auctions, raffles, live music and more. Tickets are $65. Call 604-946-6622 Ext. 0 or visit www.reachforthestarsevent.org