Harlow Raymond, eight, visits with Michelle Sluchinski, executive director of Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre during an open house held Oct. 10th. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre hosts open house

Parents and supporters dropped by to chat with staff about what’s new

Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre hosted an open house Oct. 10th to touch base with local stakeholders, friends and families who utilize the facility.

“We hold our annual open house so that we have an opportunity to invite our supporters, any families in the community that might be wondering about Aspire, and really for anyone who wants to come in and have a tour of our building and learn a bit more about the work we do with children with special needs,” explained Michelle Sluchinski, executive director.

Aspire is a charitable organization run by a team of caring and optimistic professionals who believe in working with families and the local community, in order for children with special needs can reach their full potential. Formerly the Children’s Services Centre, they have been providing an understanding, supportive and knowledgeable experience for families who have children with special needs since 1985.

During the open house, Sluchinski chatted with folks who dropped by and enjoyed detailing some of the programs offered at Aspire.

“I’d love to highlight the fact that we are really busy. Red Deer and Central Alberta are communities made up of a lot of young families.

“Those families are sometimes seeking services for their children who might have special needs. We serve about 300 children a year and then through our intake and referral probably touch 2,500 more people and families through that process as well; just letting them know where to find services.

“So we are busy – we’ve been here for 33 years serving thousands of families and we are happy about that.”

Services offered at Aspire run the gamut from psychology services, speech-language pathology, behavioural specialists to physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Meanwhile, plans are already taking shape for the Evening of Decadent Dessert next May, which is Aspire’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“It seems early, but we are excited about the fact that this will be our silver anniversary of the event,” said Sluchinski.

“So we feel like it’s grown into a wonderful time, a nice celebration of Aspire and the work that we do. And also a chance for our donors, our supporters and our families to gather and celebrate Aspire,” she said, adding that the Evening of Decadent Dessert raised more than a quarter of what the organization requires for its annual fundraising budget.

“We have a tremendous team of 60 staff who are great at what they do,” she said. “Our pre-school program is highly specialized in a very rich environment for early intervention serving the two and one-half year olds to the six-year-old population of children with special needs.

“Then we also have an arm of diagnostic and assessment work, so if you have those questions, that might be the place for you – to have an assessment done by our speech pathologists, our psychologists or our occupational therapists or our physical therapists,” she said. “They specialize in working with children, and they have so much knowledge. They are experts in their fields.”

For more about Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre, check out aspirespecialneeds.ca.

“Children deserve to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. Parents sometimes need support in that journey as well, so for us to be able to help those families with their children reach their potential is our goal every day.

“The staff come here every day with that goal in mind to do their best for those children. It’s a place where there’s a lot of fun, a lot of noise, a lot of hard work and a lot of play!

“It’s a great place to be.”

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