For months after Anne Cuthbert’s son Matthew Wilson was born, the new mom had no idea her beautiful baby boy had heart problems.
By the time Matthew was a year old, he needed open-heart surgery.
“Because Matthew went undiagnosed for months, he was developmentally delayed,” said Cuthbert. “Our doctors recommended the Richmond Society for Community Living’s Infant Development Program.”
The Richmond mom was impressed by the improvement Matthew made within a short time of being in the program.
“He’s made remarkable progress,” she said. “What really made a difference were the toys lent to us by the RSCL Lending Library.
“They have toys I can’t even find in stores, all of them with the goal to work on his fine motor skills.”
Today, Matthew is a happy, busy two-and-a-half-year-old toddler.
“Matthew is doing so well that Alex from the Supported Child Development program only comes to our home once a month, but each time she brings Matthew a new toy,” said Cuthbert.
“Alex tells us what games and toys we should use to play with him and Matthew loves that he gets to play with new toys all the time.”
Educational, adaptive toys for children with disabilities aren’t cheap.
To enable RSCL to continue to supplying children like Matthew with educational toys, the nonprofit organization is hosting its signature fundraising event on Nov. 15.
Toys and other adaptive equipment is part of RSCL’s Lending Library inventory.
The library is actually a large storage space in the Caring Place that houses unique and helpful toys, specialized books, and equipment such as a portable lift for local schools or community centres that aren’t equipped with one.
“The Lending Library also loans toys and equipment to preschools and licensed child care programs that have children in supported spots through our Supported Child Development program,” said Lisa Cowell, RSCL manager fund and community development.
“The demand from schools and community centre programs, as well as parents, is high and some of the pieces aren’t cheap.”
Currently, the Lending Library has no idea how many toys or pieces of equipment they have as it doesn’t have a proper inventory system.
“We are hoping to raise a significant amount of money to purchase more equipment and also to develop some storage/inventory systems in order to allow families and childcare centres to maximize from the program,” added Cowell.
Both Carrie McLellan-Haqq, a SCD coordinator, and her colleague Annie Hung, an infant development acting coordinator, said the Lending Library plays a vital role in the care and education that they do in schools, community centres and in homes of children with disabilities.
“Everyone who uses the library is so grateful,” said McLellan-Haqq.
The two explained to the News that there are different adaptive toys available for different special needs.
“For example, a child with cerebral palsy, who has poor motor skills, might find switch-activated toys more helpful, while a child with autism would do better with toys that promote sensory,” said McLellan-Haqq.
“Adaptive toys are made so that a special needs child can improve the skill that they are lacking.”
One such toy is a “green wiggle wedge” that children with ADHD or autism sit on and it seems to miraculously calm them down.
“For these kids, the need to move is so strong and when they need that sensory, they can sit on the green wiggle wedge without disrupting the class,” said Hung.
Proceeds raised during Benefit of Possibilities … A Community Affair will be divided between the Lending Library and the Employment Program — which supports youth and adults with developmental disabilities to find paid work, and in turn, raise their self-esteem and feeling of self worth.
“We are hoping to raise between $10 and $15,000,” added Cowell. “This is our fourth year and we really hope to sell more than 100 tickets this year.”
The RSCL’s signature fundraising event happens Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Grand Ballroom, Executive Airport Plaza Hotel from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $75.
“This year, our event is a carnival theme … it should be a lot of fun,” said Cowell.
There will be live entertainment, dinner and a no-host bar as well as a silent and live auction.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 604-279-7040, visit the office at 170-7000 Minoru Blvd., or visit http://rscl.org/calendar/events.htm.
To donate, visit www.rscl.org.