Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island and Cerebral Palsy Association of BC announce partnership to raise awareness about CP

Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island and the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC (CPABC) today announced a new long-term partnership that will explore how the organizations can work together to better support children and youth living with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and complex needs across Vancouver Island and the surrounding islands.

The Foundation completed an extensive community engagement process concluding in January 2019, called Let’s Talk CP and Complex Needs. Based on those collective conversations, it was identified that one of the biggest opportunities is to build awareness about CP and complex needs among educators, policy-makers, medical practitioners, and child and youth peer groups.

“Through our Let’s Talk CP series we learned that one of the biggest obstacles facing families and service providers is how diverse CP is. The reality for families is that like autism, CP is on a spectrum. Cerebral palsy often gets interpreted as being solely physical, but it can affect individuals mentally, emotionally, or behaviourally as well. Without a unifying message, individuals and their families are saddled with repeatedly educating others about the impacts of CP. It is our hope that by raising awareness and bringing supports closer to home, we can help to ease some of the burdens for these Island families,” says Veronica Carroll, CEO at Children’s Health Foundation.

CPABC views this partnership as an incredible opportunity not only for Vancouver Island families, but as a pilot project that can be expanded provincially.

“Partnering with Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island reflects the work we are doing going virtual during the pandemic. Being able to pivot to enhance rather than diminish our services” says Elizabeth Specht, Executive Director. “We are extremely excited and proud to be embarking on this partnership to further extend our reach and service to Island Families.”

Local pediatric surgeon and Children’s Health Foundation board member Dr. Norgrove Penny participated in the Let’s Talk CP series and recognizes the great challenges that families and caregivers face in trying to navigate medical care, education, social activities, and recreation.

“It is our vision at the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island that every child with cerebral palsy achieve the very best they are capable of physically, emotionally, and socially, and are enabled to become happy productive citizens fully included in our communities. It is our privilege to partner with them and their families in small but tangible ways to achieve this end and make sure no child “falls through the cracks,” said Dr. Penny.

“I have the privilege and pleasure of interacting with these children on a regular basis, and they show enormous pluck, bravery, and resilience. They teach us what they can do, not what they cannot do, as they overcome obstacles and challenges, we find hard to imagine,” he said.

The Crumpler family understands firsthand the importance of lessening barriers to information and supports for families who have children with CP.

“When I first heard about the partnership between the Foundation and CPABC, I actually got a bit emotional. When our son was first diagnosed with CP, we lived in northern Vancouver Island, and we really struggled looking for information, services, and supports within the community for our family, says Karena Crumpler.

“Being on the Island left us a little more isolated from resources, groups, and activities you would typically find in bigger cities. I think that increasing access to resources and lessening barriers to information will be a big comfort for families who have children with CP.  Knowing there are other families you can connect with, and that there will be resources for schools, doctors, and care providers will be such a huge help.”

Cerebral palsy affects approximately 350 children and their families on Vancouver Island and the surrounding island communities.

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