../Morning Post
Posted October 12 , 2010
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Social Entrepreneurship

New KidsAbility social enterprise takes flight: Firefly Therapy Services

Waterloo - KidsAbility is proud to announce the launch of our new initiative: Firefly Therapy Services. This new program addresses the growing needs of children and youth who are no longer eligible for government funded therapy. Many families currently require therapy services for their school-aged children, and have expressed a desire to access them through KidsAbility.

Firefly Therapy Services will allow KidsAbility to reach these families, while also generating funds that will be reinvested to support and further the mission of KidsAbility. As a not-for-profit “social enterprise”, Firefly Therapy Services clients will not only support the development of their own child, they will also be supporting the many other children who access therapy and support services at KidsAbility.

Although social enterprise has long been adapted by many local charities to address shortfalls in funding, this is new ground for KidsAbility.

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“This is an opportunity for KidsAbility to broaden our range of services to families, and ensure the continued sustainability of our existing services, for the benefit of children and youth in the communities we serve. We are taking great care to ensure the consistency of the quality and integrity of services that our community has come to expect from KidsAbility,” says Stephen Swatridge, Chief Executive Officer of KidsAbility Centre for Child Development.

This past summer, Firefly Therapy Services ran three successful camps which focused on social skills development for children aged 8-12 with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Further plans are in motion to run a variety of camps during the March break and summer of 2011.

Firefly Therapy Services will offer speech and occupational therapy at the Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge KidsAbility locations. These services include one-to-one therapy, small group therapy, and skill-based therapy groups.

“We are excited to offer families high-quality services within an organization that has a reputation for providing life-changing care to thousands of children and youth in our community,” says Kim Andrews, Program Manager for Firefly Therapy Services.

Background Information

Firefly Therapy Services is a pilot project of KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, a recognized leader in Waterloo Region and Wellington County for empowering children and youth with a wide range of complex special needs.

Over 4,400 children and youth annually receive services and support at KidsAbility so that they can reach their full potential. This includes children who cannot walk or talk properly; premature and “at risk” babies; preschoolers who need support and therapy to be successful in school; and children with complex medical syndromes who require therapy and medical support in the following three broad categories of disability:

1) Developmental delays such as premature babies, Down syndrome, autism, coordination disorders and other rare medical syndromes; and

2) Communicationdelaysordisabilities

3) Physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular
dystrophy.

KidsAbility receives funding through a combination of provincial government assistance and support from the local community through the KidsAbility Foundation’s Kids Can’t Wait campaign.

There are over 1,300 children (average age of 3 years) waiting for services at KidsAbility. Depending on a child’s diagnosis wait times can range anywhere from seven months to three years. These wait lists occur because:

- The health needs of our clients are increasingly complex;
- Waterloo Wellington is one of the fastest-growing areas in Ontario; and
- Without the presence of a local pediatric hospital, KidsAbility must fill the void left by the lack of specialized care traditionally provided by these institutions.

The revenue generated by Firefly Therapy Services will be reinvested into KidsAbility’s mission of empowering children and youth with special needs to realize their full potential.


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