18 May 2nd Play Centre Site Opens in New Westminster BC for Children with Autism and Their Peers
2nd Play Centre Site Opens in New Westminster BC for Children with Autism and Their Peers
Vancouver, B.C. – Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society turning away up to 10 children a week due to the staggering demand for their unique and innovative Play Centre programs.
“Of course we knew when we launched our Play Centre – East Vancouver in 2012 that the programs were very badly needed, but we had no idea we would reach capacity within a year after opening,” says Heather McCracken, the founder and executive director of Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society. “Since January we have turned away more than 80 families. As a parent of a child with autism, I know all too well the heartbreak and worry of the ‘wait-list’. Needless to say, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our second Play Centre for Children with Autism at 336 Columbia Street, New Westminster BC.”
The unique Play Centre programs include; early childhood, after school, weekends, spring and summer camp Integrated Play Groups®, as well as free parent training, support groups and training for professionals. The Friend 2 Friend Play Centre’s are the first of a kind to combine the award-winning Integrated Play Groups®, SCERTS® and Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® models into comprehensive, inclusive programs for children with autism and their peers and siblings. These evidence-based models help all children (those with and without special needs) improve social, communication, emotional regulation, and peer social play, which are the cornerstones to healthy development and lifelong learning and relationships.
“Any family with our without a child with special needs can access our programs, regardless of their child’s needs or abilities. These programs are essential for any child suffering from peer isolation, rejection or bullying within their school or community setting. For children with autism, I am sorry to say the need is great,” states McCracken.
Friend 2 Friend is now seeking funding and support from the community for the launch of their second Play Centre site in September 2015. The Play Centre – New Westminister will assist in meeting the staggering demand for their programs by allowing the Society to more than double the number of children currently being served, as well as add in new teen programs. “Now that we have our new home in New Westminister the work really begins, we need to renovate, decorate, purchase equipment and materials and of course raise funds to support the programs,” says McCracken. “More than ever we need the community’s support.”
Friend 2 Friend is a non-government funded, non-profit charity that has been designing and delivering their unique and innovative Autism Demystification®and Integrated Play Groups® to children and families in B.C., Canada, the US and abroad for more than 14 years. Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society was founded in 2002 by Heather McCracken, a Vancouver parent of three, including a son who has autism.