As soon as Jason Picklyk was introduced to Starbright Children’s Development Centre and its fundraising campaign, All Kids Matter, he was committed to the cause.
Having a couple of cousins on the low side of the autism spectrum gave Jason some insight into the huge task families face. As they grow older, parents and siblings don’t know how to communicate with a child whose speech skills aren’t developing.
“Can you imagine the stress that goes with that?” Jason says. “How do you communicate as they become a toddler?”
Starbright started in 1966 as the Central Okanagan Children’s Development Association, with a conversation Dr. Cliff Henderson had around a kitchen table. Initially it was developed for children with cerebral palsy, but now encompasses children from a wide range of developmental challenges.
As a firefighter, Jason is an experienced fundraiser. This cause put him into high gear.
“As soon as I went in there, I realized they were cash-strapped. I just had to do something to help out.”
Half way to their goal of raising $70,000 by March 31, Jason says the bigger focus is to source sustainable funding to replace community and provincial funds that have dried up in recent years.
It’s not only the children who need top quality professional services such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and clinical counselling, parents and families need to learn how to be their child’s primary caregiver.
“It’s not so much the kids,” Jason says, “first thing it’s life-changing when you have a child with these needs. Once you get in there and look around at all the stuff they’ve got, it’s amazing.”