By Mamta Lulla
Foundation for Cohesive Communities has found a permanent home. The new office is located at the Family Connection Centre in Stony Plain.
The organization works with families who have children with special needs and need help navigating through the system. Alison Ainsworth, program coordinator at the foundation said the new space is helping the organization do exactly that. Parents are able to come in and feel comfortable to receive information and access resources based on the needs of their children with special needs.
“We meet with them and take a look at the individual situation and provide information and referral services,” she said.
The organization runs based on a pool of resources – from the services available and experiences drawn from families who may have gone through something similar.
The organization runs support groups for families, running events to promote inclusivity and helping families not feel alone in their journeys.
“We have realized families with kids with special needs feel isolated in their journeys,” she said.
To address the isolation the organization runs events and programs to connect families with each other. Aimsworth said although their individual circumstances are different, their collective experience would be similar.
Cohesive Communities runs two support groups run every month. A casual drop-in free support group is hosted at Perks Coffee House in Spruce Grove runs third Tuesday of every month between 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It’s where parents with kids with special needs can connect with others in the community and draw from each other’s experiences.
Another free support program runs at the Stony Plain Public Library fourth Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The program requires families to register beforehand and offers childcare for all children by professionals who are qualified to take care of children with special needs.
An upcoming program will help siblings make connections. The free program that will start in January will be geared towards siblings in a home with special needs.
Aimsworth said siblings of kids with special needs may sometimes feel overwhelmed or challenged due to the various situations they are put in, or they may sometimes be overlooked. The program will connect them with other siblings who maybe going through something similar.
It’s aimed for kids between 12 and 17.
As the organization is growing, the community is learning to become more aware of every day difficulties families may go through. The community is realizing the increasing demand for inclusivity and demand for services and those conversations are taking place in classrooms and doctor’s offices, added Aimsworth.
The feedback she receives is positive and makes her heart smile. For example, a child experienced sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time at a recent Cohesive Santa experience event, run by Cohesive Communities.
For more information or to register for any programs call the Foundation for Cohesive Communities at 780-963-7570 or e-mail at info@cohesivecommunities.com.
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