Dear Friends of AAO:
This past week we heard that there will be no more funding from the City of Ottawa for the “Around the Campfire” program run by The Gloucester Association for Children with Special Needs.
Last year when my daughter was diagnosed, we started becoming a part of all the autism related emailing lists around Ottawa. I remember when I received an email about the “Around the Campfire” program and thinking how great I thought it was and how when my daughter was older I would definitely want her to be involved in it!! Therefore, I am quite frustrated and sorry to hear that the city has decided not to fund it.
Please take a moment to read the letter below from Joanne, the Director of Gloucester Association for Children with Special Needs. Hopefully you will take a minute to write to your City Councillor and/or the Mayor and ask them to reconsider. Remember – “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
Last week my husband, David attended the year end budget meeting for Gloucester Association for Special Needs (GACSN). Two city reps attended the meeting and announced that ATC would not be funded after the Spring session. When David told me the news I has shocked and very angry. I didn’t sleep that night! I sent out a quick notice to WIMS – a parent group – to inform the public. Some parents have written the mayor and city councillors and this seems to have lit a fire under the City staff.
I spoke with Diane Cyr today, she works with the city’s Special Needs department. She informed me that the city would possibly be coming up with some money but we will be lucky if we only get enough to fund two sites. I had to cancel Orleans for the winter session due to low numbers. Central and Kanata have waiting lists. I informed GACSN and the city that there is a strong interest/need in Barrhaven.
My husband’s philosophy is to strike while the iron is hot. If more parents write letters expressing their thoughts we may be able to get more funding. Your letters should speak to the city’s decision to cut Around the Campfire, and to the fact that so little is offered to our kids who have high needs. I would love to share the letters that have been sent to date…I will need consent from the parents, staff and grandmother who wrote the letters. Believe me you would cry. Around the Campfire is a program that offers our little guys an opportunity to be themselves, to laugh and have fun. The staff love working with the kids and I know the kids love the program.
Thursday night I cried. I don’t cry very often but I found myself crying because my two little ones don’t play with toys, they come home from school and hang out with David, Stella and me. They don’t have play dates….I can’t really buy them gifts other than clothes. Their world is so small!
I created this program for them and for all of your kids and all of the other kids out there like Jackson and Ferne. It makes me terribly sad to think that the city cannot fund a little program like ATC.
To those of you who have written letters, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I urge other parents to write letters….We are a minority but our voices can be heard.
Parent of 3 amazing kids