The Fort St. John Child Development Centre's Special Services Program was recognized for the fantastic work it does for the community on Sunday, winning Autism B.C.'s Community Impact Award for Northern B.C.
The award recognizes groups and individuals who make a difference in their community through raising awareness about autism, and helping people diagnosed with autism.
"We were all pretty darn excited when we found out we won. We were just proud to have been nominated, but to be named the winner is a real honour," said special services co-ordinator Crystal Kalas.
The Special Services Program is an after-school, group based program, that works with four different age groups. The program includes respite skills workers Treena Farquharson, Juvylyn Lim, Dwan Bloye, and Rebecca Hall.
"Kids learn skills, participate in recreational activities for community integration, and chores," Kalas said.
Some of the specific skills groups will work on is cleaning, cooking, baking, and doing the dishes. In normal years, groups will go to the library, go swimming, go bowling, and do gymnastics. But options for going out in the community are limited this year due to the pandemic.
"One of the best things we do every night is we cook dinner together and then sit down and eat together," Farquharson said. "The kids feel welcome here, they feel safe and secure, and can be themselves."
The group was nominated for the award by Coral Pimm, whose daughter is a part of the program and loves it. The program was one of three shortlisted for the award, including two from Prince George.
The program received $1,000 with the award, which will be put towards activities for its 14 to 19-year-old age group.
"This team is wonderful. The girls really make the program fun, exciting, welcoming, and I don’t think we would have been nominated if it wasn’t for how great this team works together. We’re so proud," Kalas sad.
Said executive director Tana Millner, "This is an amazing program, and congratulations to these girls, it's a big award."
Email reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.