The executive director and the board president of the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) took off on their own “Oprah and Gail Road Trip” recently.
Although their trip was only to Vancouver and back, and not across the country, Lorraine Aitken and Pam Crowe were thrilled. They were taking delivery of a new customized van for the CVCDA, which they lovingly drove back to its new home in the Valley.
The CVCDA applied for the van from the Sunshine Coach Grant Program, which is under the umbrella of Variety – The Children’s Charity, headquartered in Burnaby. In the Coach Program, Variety contributes half of the cost of the vehicle, and the recipient the other half.
In this case, the Child Development Association contributed $26,950, a combination of money raised at their Telethon and donations received throughout the year.
Sidewinder Conversions and Mobility, a ﬁrm in Chilliwack, converted the vehicle from a regular 15-passenger van to one that accommodates 10 passengers including two in wheelchairs.
The CVCDA’s Community Integration Program is dependent on transporting children with cognitive and physical disabilities to after-school activities, such as bowling and swimming. This new van replaces an old vehicle that was still safe, but ancient enough that it was starting to be costly to repair and difficult to operate efficiently and easily.
Bob Gamble, the co-ordinator of the Community Integration Program and driver of the van, commented, “I’m a bit starstruck by all the features.”
The hydraulic wheelchair lift is state of the art. It is larger, smoother, easier and faster to operate, safer for both the rider and operator, folds up and attaches inside the van to keep it out of the weather, and has straps and alarms for additional safety.
Everyone at the organization is excited about the van and Aitken says, “The kids love it and the staff love driving it. When the van ﬁrst pulled up [for its inaugural trip], the kids couldn’t believe it was for them.”
A sigh of relief and a fond farewell were given as the old van retired. For a dozen years it worked very hard, and the CVCDA greatly appreciates the generosity of the health unit and the provincial fleet for donating the van all those years ago. — Comox Valley
Child Development Association