For our latest Charitable Choices profile, we spoke with Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families to fins out more about the awesome work they do and how our readers can get involved and help out.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families is a family-focused community leader delivering support services, programs, and opportunities to families and individuals living with cerebral palsy and similar neuromotor disabilities. As a non-for-profit organization, CP Kids and Families offers a range of programs and events that create a positive and consistent support system for families and provides opportunities for kids to experience the simple joys of being a kid. Whether a family has questions about funding, an adapted bike for their child, planning renovations on their home or adapted vehicle, or are just looking to chat about their individual circumstances, CP Kids and Families is here to help.
What problem does it aim to solve?
CP Kids and Families is a safe space for anyone living with cerebral palsy to reach out for support. When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy or a similar neuromotor disability, locating the appropriate supports, funding, resources and programs can be overwhelming. CP Kids and Families staff strive to share knowledge and hope by providing compassionate, respectful, and individualized care to suit each family and individual throughout their life journey. We work closely with community partners and agencies to connect families to appropriate services and resources as well as, peer to peer support. In order to continue to provide consistent, reliable, and effective services, we source current and emerging information regarding cerebral palsy, treatments, programming, and resources.
When did you start/join it?
The Calgary Cerebral Palsy Association (now CP Kids & Families) was formed on June 13th, 1951 by a group of parents, each of whom were dealing with a similar, yet somewhat varied disability of their children – many of whom had yet to receive any diagnose. I am the Executive Director and have been with Cerebral Palsy Kids & Families since 2000. I am a mother of five children and, my middle son Taylor is lives with cerebral palsy. When it comes to my work and family life, I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of kids and families living with disabilities. I am proud to be a part of such an empowering agency and to lead a team of dedicated staff and volunteers.
What made you want to get involved?
I encountered some challenges when I first started along this journey. I wanted to connect with other families to ensure I had the best resources to support my son. I believe that parents with shared experiences, navigating the maze of supports and resources for their children want to ensure individuals in their community living with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities experience an inclusive, abundant, and happy life. CP Kids and Families demonstrated that a passionate group of employees, volunteers, financial supporters, and members could come together and change the lives of our families.
What was the situation like when you started?
Founded initially over sixty-nine years ago by a handful of visionary parents of children with disabilities, the organization’s primary goal was to offer family-focused support. Shortly after the association was formed in 1951, Canadian doctors finally learned to recognize the traits of cerebral palsy. CP Kids and Families (formerly The Calgary Cerebral Palsy Association) saw the need to start some sort of treatment and support program for individuals and families affected by cerebral palsy.
How has it changed since?
Since the association was formed, and families can now receive appropriate diagnoses, management, and treatments of cerebral palsy and other neuromotor disabilities, CP Kids and Families can focus on programming that enriches the lives of the children we support.
Our agency has really grown over the last 20 years. When we started we had 10 clients that we were serving, and currently we see over 700.
Through the Adapted Bike Program, members have the opportunity to borrow an adapted bike for their special needs child that meets all of their needs at an extremely affordable cost. Being able to ride a bike builds confidence, allows crucial participation in an activity that is embraced by everyone regardless of ability. Biking stretches and builds muscles, increases balance, promotes family wellness, but perhaps most importantly, simply allows children to have fun. We have had the privilege of providing more than 1400 children the opportunity to experience the joy of riding a bike.
What more needs to be done?
Through CP Kids and Families programming, employees, members, volunteers, and financial supporters have built community awareness in the Calgary area; however, there is always more knowledge to share. We find that often misconceptions about cerebral palsy or other neuromotor disabilities occur and we aim to address this in our mission. We focus on the individuals’ strengths and strive to build self-esteem by offering programming to support resiliency. We aim to be a safe haven for anyone living with cerebral palsy to reach out for support. Individuals with cerebral palsy can have and lead an independent life – including attending school, become employed, get married, raise a family and live in their own homes. Our goal is to be able to support individuals and families living with cerebral palsy to live full, rich and abundant lives.
How can our readers help?
Help us light up a child’s life by giving your time or support to our programs by donating on our website. We could not do what we do without the generous support of our volunteers, members or local community. Christmas time is a busy time for us as we collect items for our Silent Auction at our Family Christmas Party, and we also have an Adopt-a-Family program. Through volunteering at events or donations you are helping CP Kids and Families, to support families through our Adapted Bike Program, Equipment Loan Program, Summer Kids Camp, and other Family Support Programs. Donations of any amount are appreciated for these vital programs.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our Music and Movement Therapy Program is currently running. This ten-week program is available to all children, birth to 5 years of age, living with a neuromotor disability. Please find registration details under our event page on our website.
Our family Christmas Party is on December 1st and we are always looking for volunteers or donations for our silent auction. We also Adopt-a-Family at Christmas, if an individual or business is able to sponsor a family, you will truly be making a difference in their life this Christmas.
Where can we follow you?