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Starbright Children’s Development Centre supports the growth and development of children with developmental needs
The impact of Starbright Children’s Development Centre is best understood through a personal story like Ann’s about her son, Alex. Located in Kelowna, British Columbia, and serving Central Okanagan communities, the centre has been operating and creating such stories for over 50 years.
Ann is a parent like many others who came to Starbright when she and her child were in desperate need of a miracle.
Ann and Alex’s Story
“Some 20 years ago, my little boy Alex and I walked up the steps of the child development centre’s entrance. Neither of us knew at the time what a monumental decision that would be and how it would change our lives forever,” said Ann.
“My son had been a happy and lively child until the age of two when his life was turned upside down. He became very sick and stopped speaking and playing. He looked through people, not at them, and no longer engaged in the happy life he once knew. Some people responded to this by telling me he needed to be institutionalized, while others said there was likely nothing that could be done.
“But then something did change for us. That life-changing moment was when we walked through the doors of Starbright. No one there asked for a diagnosis. No one made us feel alone in what we were facing. That day, my son and I joined a group of caring people at the centre working with the same goal—to help Alex.
“There were professionals in the areas of speech and language, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, family support, and early intervention programming who worked together to meet our needs. I was invited to join a group of parents, all learning how to develop and evolve with our children. My son began to gain skills that others said would be impossible.
“Alex made steady progress. Over time, he regained his ability to speak and began to acknowledge the world around him. The happy boy I knew before began to re-emerge. I had waited all those years to hear him speak, and then on his first day of school, he turned to me before he boarded the bus and said, ‘Bye, Mom, I love you!’ There are no words to describe the emotions of that day.
“My son graduated from high school—with honours. He has continued to grow and evolve, and as a young adult, he faces the same journey as his peers with education, working, and building a career.
“How fortunate we were to have entered the doors of that child development centre. Little did we know Starbright is where miracles happen every day!”
Starbright’s Service Model
Starbright is very proud of its history of helping families with learning and finding ways to support the developmental progress of their children.
The centre has provided therapies and programming for babies, toddlers, and preschool children experiencing developmental difficulties since 1966. The charitable non-profit centre has become vital to the local community, seeing approximately 1,000 children a year. It receives funding from the provincial government, supplemented with donations each year by individuals and businesses within the community.
Anyone can refer a child to Starbright’s services within the Central Okanagan region. This includes the child’s family, a pediatrician, a family doctor, a public health nurse, or a childcare facility. All that is required is for the family to be involved and supportive of the referral.
Expert Caring Staff
“It’s really our staff that makes Starbright so special,” said Dr. Rhonda Nelson, the Centre’s Executive Director. “We employ occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language pathologists, infant development consultants, a clinical counselor, inclusive childcare consultants, and inclusive childcare educators.
“These talented and skilled service providers are passionate about the work they do with the families and their children. When you total it up, we’ve provided over 1.2 million hours of service to our clients by current staff with over 680 years of total experience.”
Nelson notes that sessions with the children are scheduled for the best space to suit their needs. Starbright has approximately 20,000 square feet of space that include specialized therapy gyms and programming areas. The centre’s staff also provide therapy or consultation appointments in families’ homes to help adjust the home environment or use strategies within home routines that help their child achieve their goals.
There is even the option of virtual sessions when a family cannot come to Starbright due to either illness of someone in their home or the lack of childcare for siblings.
Starbright therapists and consultants work in multi-disciplinary teams that focus on the goals the families have set for their children.
One or more of the various disciplines may have joint sessions together with the child and the family, ensuring that strategies to address the goals for the child are integrated and work to reinforce each other. Joint sessions are time-efficient for families and are much appreciated.
Parents Are Advocates
“Starbright’s focus on the parents and the family of the child with developmental delays is by design,” said President of the Centre’s Board of Directors Carol Meise. “The services our staff provide to families are built upon trust and respect. With a child and family-centred philosophy guiding all efforts, Starbright families become part of the therapy and programming sessions so they learn strategies they can reinforce at home to support their child further.”
“We find the parents and our staff motivate and inspire each other. The parents have been wonderful advocates for the work we do and stories like Ann’s are so rewarding for us. It’s such a thrill when we meet with parents and we’re able to talk about their child’s progress and successes. This very much reflects what Starbright is able to bring to the local community.”
Starbright plans to be providing services to families in Central Okanagan for many years to come. There continue to be families and children who need the support and assistance of the centre and its caring and professional staff—people like Ann and Alex who need a special miracle. Starbright intends to keep creating stories just like theirs.
Starbright is a charitable non-profit organization providing therapy and program services to families with young children who have developmental needs. Learn more about community support and funding opportunities at starbrightokanagan.ca
Starbright Children’s Development Centre is a charitable non-profit organization providing therapy and program services to a variety of families with children age 0 to school age eligibility throughout the central Okanagan. With generous assistance from the community, the province and many sponsors we have continued to provide quality services for families since 1966.