A Recipe for Giving Back - a personal story shared by Jody O'Malley

May 2021 

Community philanthropy is deeply rooted in my core values so when my business, The Culinary Studio, was approached by KidsAbility to host an online cooking class for a fundraising event, I replied with an automatic Yes!

KidsAbility holds a special place with me. I have used their services with my oldest daughter and my youngest son.

brother and sister smiling

Becoming a parent is overwhelming. So many things to learn, adapt and change. Some parents are faced with extraordinary situations and KidsAbility gives parents like myself the gift of making those situations easier and brighter.

My oldest daughter was born missing her left hand – her “little arm” we affectionately call it. At 6 months old she was fitted with her first prosthetic arm. It involved long days travelling back and forth to Holland-Bloorview on the other side of Toronto.

As a new Mom I had so many questions. KidsAbility was a place that I found supportive, knowledgeable and understanding staff.  

Having KidsAbility within our community allowed us to use local resources. The Physiotherapy program at KidsAbility assisted with helping her learn how to use her ‘new’ arm and work on her fine motor skills.

Fast forward ten years. As a mom of four, I found myself back at KidsAbility with my two-year-old son. Diagnosed with Apraxia, my son only had a handful of words. Most of his communication was head nods and shoulder shrugs. I remember thinking at this point if my son would only say a few words I would make them count...and taught him to call me “Beauty Mama”.

For over two years we worked with Martha at KidsAbility in the Speech-Language therapy program. With a great deal of hard work and determination, along with Martha’s gentle guidance and wealth of experience, my son’s shoulder shrugs changed to sounds. From words to two-word sentences. Now he has endless conversations and inquisitive questions. 

At seven years old, he no longer calls me "Beauty Mama" but I have pure gratitude every single day with his ability to communicate. My little guy does not stop talking and I am eternally grateful for KidsAbility’s part in giving him a voice.

KidsAbility provided my family with the support and resources to help my kids flourish – we are so fortunate to have such an amazing organization within our community. Whenever we drive by KidsAbility in Waterloo we wave with an acknowledgement of gratitude. In the words of my son, “KidsAbility is amazing because it helped me speak!”

Jody O’Malley - mom of four, a Red Seal Chef, and local co-owner of The Culinary Studio

A Note from Lisa Talbot, Executive Director, KidsAbility Foundation: 

For so many children like William and Mia, reaching their potential begins with access to our team of expert therapists and our wide range of innovative programs and critical resources 

You can make therapy possible for more kids who need it most. By making a gift today, you will help more children and youth thrive in our community.