Chilliwack – On Wednesday night at Chilliwack Secondary, the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC held an open discussion on needs and wants in the Fraser Valley. Not just for CP , but other physical disabilities as well. Over a dozen parents, some with their children (adults and teens) expressed concern over lack of facilities and programs.
What is Cerebral Palsy? Scarring of the brain that affects motor skills, speech. Often, symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles and tremors. There may be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing and speaking. Many times the diagnosis isn’t found until age 2.
There is no cure for CP.
There were kudos especially for the UFV TASK program. The TASK pre-employment program is for adult students with disabilities who want to explore employment opportunities and prepare for a job. You can find information here.
Accessibility and Inclusion Consultant Karen Lai facilitated the discussion. Among those with concerns included a member from the CDC Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, and the Principal of a Chilliwack Middle School whose step child has CP and he was concerned about services and programs, and lack thereof in the Chiliwack School System.
Two main themes came from this round table.
1- Social isolation is a reality, there is a lack of social connection. Kids have a tough time making friends in the basic school system. The stigma and lack of understanding creates unnecessary stress, fears and bias.
2-Most programs are rehab oriented with no “FUN” component.
There is a new app for those with similar challenges called MEET UP and what you want to search for is the #socialawkwardcommunity. Having a social life is frustrating and almost impossible at times, especially for those who age out of programs and become of adult age.
Of the concerns, these stood out:
Many parents in Chilliwack and Abbotsford go to Mission where equipment and lifts at the Mission Leisure Centre are usually in working order. That is not the case for the two community leisure centres in Chilliwack and the ARC in Abbotsford.
Playgrounds are not inclusive for those with disabilities. Woods chips look great, but if your have mobility issues, navigating through wood chips is a problem. Then there are the lack of wheelchair swings. If they are available, able bodied kids get there first and their parents don’t seem to understand why they are there in the first place. The Chilliwack Middle School Principal that attended, stated that while there are great programs for able bodied kids, the School District falls behind for wheelchair bound patrons.
Concrete waterparks look great but are a hazard for the child can only crawl. Rubberized surfaces would be ideal. Horse riding facilities are not equipped to handle the disables and other like Prest Road in Chilliwack, simply have shut down.
The lack of disability parking and the lack of respect from other drivers for those parking spaces.
There was criticism over the two Chilliwack Leisure Centres and the now under renovation YMCA to address wheelchair needs.
CSCL Chilliwack Society for Community Living have great programs…until your child ages out as an adult/teen.
The video is the opening of the discussion from Karen Lai: