Parents Jeannette Campbell and Jesse Heinpalu, with their children, Dennis (in Jeannette’s arms), Michael (on Jesse’s shoulders) and Warren. Photo courtesy Crystal Chowdhury/ Crystal Clear Photography.

Comox Valley Child Development Association introduces Telethon poster children

Jeannette Campbell has three reasons to be grateful for the work of the Comox Valley Child Development Association: Warren, Michael and Dennis.

Her three sons, aged seven, five and one, respectively, have been clients of the CVCDA for most of their lives.

Warren is in The Autism Program (TAP). Michael is seeing speech and occupational therapists, and was recently assessed to be on the autism spectrum, and Dennis, who has a cleft palate, is also receiving speech and occupational therapies. All three have gone through the CVCDA’s Infant Development Program as well.

Their selection as this year’s CVCDA Telethon poster children was flattering for the family, and easy for the selection committee.

“Program managers simply suggest families from within their programs and then all meet to discuss potential families. The group comes to a unanimous decision,” explained Brooklyn Galloway, who handles marketing and communications for CVCDA. “This family was chosen because there were three children and all three children have accessed services at various stages. ”

When Warren and Michael were diagnosed with autism, it was a comfort to Jeannette that the CVCDA already had a program in place to support her family.

“It did make it easy, because we already had this source,” she said. “We had already seen the TAP staff around the odd time, so familiar faces.”

Having lived in the Valley since 2001, Jeannette was familiar with the CVCDA Telethon long before having children. Now that her family relies so heavily on the CVCDA services, she is particularly grateful for the annual outpouring of generosity by others in the Comox Valley every year.

“The kids couldn’t function without the services provided by the CVCDA,” said Jeannette. “And it’s not just [at the CVCDA building]. They work with my kids at the school, at daycare.”

All proceeds from the Telethon stay right here in the Comox Valley to support children and youth with special needs and their families. The Comox Valley Child Development Association supported more than 1,000 children last year, through its 13 different programs. Funds from the Telethon are needed by the organization to sustain all of its programming and the continued growth in demand for services across all its programs.

Jeannette said the support for the parents is also second-to-none, including what CVCDA family support worker Sarah Shelin offers.

“My program is quite unique,” said Shelin of her role with the CVCDA. “My support really is for the parents. It can be really broad… anything from working with them in the office, to finding resources in the community that we don’t offer here, helping connect parents to those resources and fill out the paperwork. We are really lucky here.”

It’s all part of the CVCDA’s “one-stop shopping” vision – offering as many child and family services as possible, to make life as easy as possible for their clients.

“It means so much that we don’t have to leave the Comox Valley, to make sure the boys get the therapies that they need – that we can get all these supports in one place,” she said.

Jeannette said she can’t imagine the challenges faced by families who don’t have access to an association like the CVCDA.

“I see it on my Facebook groups – lots of parents on my support groups there, constantly fighting for every scrap of therapy they need for their kids – paying for everything, or clearing it through insurance – whereas here, we have a system in place where as soon as the paperwork is filled out, the boys are set up, pretty much forever.”

The CVCDA passes along a special thanks to Crystal Chowdhury, of Crystal Clear Photography, who graciously volunteered her services to provide the photos for this year’s Telethon poster.



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

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