The Clubhouse is a special place for kids to be themselves and prepare for the future.
The North Okanagan Neurological Association launched a fundraising campaign Monday to replace an existing building with a 9,500-square-foot facility primarily focused on children with autism.
“We’ve completely outgrown it. We’re seeing 56 children with autism,” said Helen Armstrong, NONA executive director.
The Build A Clubhouse campaign has a goal of raising $1.6 million and there are already donations and pledges of $700,000.
“We still have a little ways to go but it’s a great start,” said Janice Foster, NONA chairperson.
A number of businesses and service clubs have already stepped up to the plate, and the community is now being urged to get onboard.
“We will be at lots of public events,” said Ian Laidlaw, chairperson of the 12-person campaign team.
“You will see the Clubhouse pop up around Vernon and the North Okanagan.”
Honourary chairperson is Archie Stroh.
The Clubhouse is expected to be constructed this year next to NONA’s child development centre downtown, and it will include 10 therapy rooms, a gymnasium and a learning kitchen.
The goal is to provide specialized learning opportunities for feeding and life skills.
Among those looking forward to the new facility are Robert and Carey Keith, parents of Evan, who was born with Down’s syndrome and then diagnosed with autism.
“We knew there was help,” said Carey Keith.
The family is accessing services at the current building but is looking forward to the new Clubhouse, which will include rooms with one-way glass so parents can observe therapy sessions.
“We can understand what’s really going on,” said Robert Keith.
As she cuddles four-year-old Ashton Hartwig, behaviour interventionist Aimee Chevrier contemplates the benefits of the new Clubhouse.
“It will be great to have a space for them that is bigger and better,” said Chevrier.
NONA’s child development centre provides assistance to more than 700 children and youth with special needs annually.
Residents can donate to Build the Clubhouse at www.canadahelps.org/dn/10554 and for more information about NONA services, go to www.nona-cdc.com