Connections HeaderYoung Boy Smiling

Welcome to KidsAbility Foundation's Connections Newsletter - a gathering of stories that demonstrate your impact with our community! Learn more about the families served thanks to your support as well as upcoming initiatives and planned events to help children and youth achieve great things at home, at school and in our community.

Fall 2020

A smile that speaks louder than words – thanks to you!

Twelve-year-old Forrest Blacksmith is usually the last person to finish the annual Guelph Superhero Run in support of KidsAbility. But he does it all by himself thanks to early and ongoing physiotherapy and occupational therapy he received at KidsAbility - and the support from donors like you.

“Those first five years with KidsAbility were the most pivotal for Forrest when he was learning to walk,” shares Shana Blackburn, Forrest’s mom.“And we received the key support we needed as parents. We’ve attended the Run almost every year to raise funds for other families and wanted to help fill the gap left from cancelled events.”

When the former Run was reimagined as the Superhero Virtual Challenge this June, it was to allow families to choose for themselves how to participate safely within their neighbourhoods. Forrest’s parents set to work mapping a 1 km route for him in their St. George’s Park Boy with WalkerNeighbourhood in Guelph. They chose a date, welcomed family and friends to cheer him from a distance and created a fundraising page.

“The Run has become a symbolic event,” shares Greg Smith, Forrest’s dad. “Each year acts as a milestone journey for Forrest. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for him to complete it. It helps us remember how far he’s come.”

Forrest reached his milestone that day. Amidst 30 degree heat and with only one water break, he completed the 1 km route in only 48 . Friends, neighbours, his teacher and Educational Assistants were on hand to give him the outpouring of support he needed. By his final step, Forrest had doubled his original goal, raising a total of $2,205 which will greatly impact kids in our community.

When Forrest is determined, there is so much he can do. Staying connected with KidsAbility for consultations, walker fittings and occupational therapy referrals has helped him progress from crutches to a walker, to now walking short distances on his own.

Forrest continues to take part in youth PD days and recreation programs offered by KidsAbility. Greg and Shana both agree that KidsAbility has encouraged Forrest with a drive to succeed in all he does. Your donations make it possible for youth like Forrest to build peer-to-peer social skills while also supporting independence, inclusion and belonging. It’s one of the many ways you support children and youth to achieve great things at home, at school and in our community.

Smiling AdultsThe brightest futures made possible by you!

Being a teen is challenging. Graduating from high school in 2020 is nothing less than remarkable. Ryan and Savannah are two KidsAbility alumni who demonstrate that with determination, effort and perseverance – and support from you – the future is theirs to explore!

Ryan Kokiw never lets his challenges stand between setting clear goals and achieving them. Born with cerebral palsy, he views his disability as a defining part of who he is. From his time as a KidsAbility Ambassador to now, Ryan continues to be a strong advocate for KidsAbility, openly sharing with peers that anyone can do anything with the right mindset. For his diligence, Ryan was named the recipient of the 2020 Carol Shantz Bursary Award.

Savannah Meadus has a dream to help others. It’s fueled by her own childhood success with therapy at KidsAbility. As a young child and a twin, her pediatrician noticed she was not reaching age appropriate milestones. When her family discovered KidsAbility, she thrived from early intensive speech and occupational therapy. Savannah embraces her differences and credits her ability to overcome obstacles which could have held her back to becoming a high school competitive basketball player. She secured the Steve Kidd Bursary Award in 2020 and she is eager to bring her personal success story with KidsAbility to Fanshawe College’s Occupational and Physiotherapy Assistant Program.

From specialized therapy received when they were young to discovering the brightest future, the successes of youth like Forrest, Ryan and Savannah are made possible by our professional therapy teams and support staff, and the hearts of community supporters like you who believe in a more inclusive community. 

Linda Kenny SmilingLearning new ways to continue to be here when families need us the most. 

A message from Linda Kenny, KidsAbility’s CEO

If these last few months reminded us of anything it is that no matter what challenges or obstacles we may face, KidsAbility’s team is creative, innovative and passionate about finding new ways to continue to be there when families need us the most.

Looking back on the last six months, we have a lot to be thankful for and proud of. When we closed the doors on our physical sites in March, we did not know what the future would hold only that we had a responsibility and a role to play – more critical than ever – to support families in new ways. 

Our team pivoted quickly allowing us to remain available and ready to help our children continue to reach their goals – virtually. This was something new for KidsAbility but through the use of technology, our staff developed a plan that made sense for families and children to continue to receive the therapy and supports they needed in the comfort and safety of their home. Although it was certainly a new way of serving children, we realized that for so many families virtual therapy proved to be just as successful as in-person visits. That was pretty awesome! 

In May, KidsAbility welcomed back our first client face-to-face at our Waterloo site. What an emotional day that was for us! We had missed the sound of laughter and voices in our hallways. As we continue to welcome more staff, children and families back for face-to-face visits across our sites, virtual therapy will remain an important way that we can serve families – no matter where they are.

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of everyone and our plan reflects that. We are agile and able to respond to changes as they come continuing to make the best decisions with the best information available guided by the recommendations from Public Health and our government officials.

Thank you. We are grateful for your messages of support and donations throughout these times. You help to make these successes possible. Your support means the world to us and thanks to you, we will continue to be there when families need us the most. Together, brighter futures happen here.

Hand on HandWelcome Foundation Board Members

We invite you to know a bit more about our newest leadership volunteers – Leslie Doherty, Donna Kuppers and Jennifer Roggemann – who seek to merge their strengths, talents and passion for children and youth.

Click here to learn more about what inspires each of our Board Members to help children and youth achieve great thing at home, in school and in our community.

Heart Community events in support of KidsAbility

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  To learn more about these community events in support of KidsAbility please click here.

Smiling ChildOur world might have paused – but your kindness did not.

From the beginning of this pandemic you’ve held space in your heart for our kids and their families.

As we journey together into the last months of 2020, thank you for all the ways in which you remain steadfast in supporting the needs of kids and youth in our community. Every gift given, no matter how small, continues to provide consistent support to meet the needs of our families, and ensure help is there when they need it the most. We truly could not have travelled this far without you. Thank you. 

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 To view the full printable version of our connections e-newsletter please click here.