Walter Bransonroach is a poster child for KidsAbility in more ways than one.
While his smiling face adorns one of the promotional poster the for the child development and rehabilitation organization, he is also a prime example of the wonderful things it can help achieve.
On Wednesday Walter, 5, and his family were on hand for the official opening of the KidsAbility new Guelph Hub, a 20,000 square foot customized space that cost $1.2 million to create.
KidsAbility staff, board members, donors and invited guests were on hand for speeches, tours and ribbon cutting.
It was a far cry from its humble beginnings in 1999 when a seed grant from the government set them up in a spare room at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre without a phone or even furniture.
But it was Walter’s mom Erin who stole the show with the story of what KidsAbility has done for her son.
Walter suffers from Leigh Syndrome, a severe neurological disorder.
He started attending therapy at KidsAbility shortly after his first birthday.
“Right when we came in, it was a very positive experience,” his mom said. “It wasn’t people saying ‘there’s something wrong with your kid … he’s not normal.’”
Physical and speech therapy have helped him learn how to walk and talk.
“He couldn’t even sit up when we started,” Erin said.
A social worker through KidsAbility helped them find funding through various sources that “helped lift the burden” of being in their situation.
“We had no idea what KidsAbility was,” she said. “The resources, the therapies, have changed Walter’s life. That have made him who he is.”
“We wouldn’t have someone to share the burden or worry and fear, and just the help they’ve given us, if it weren’t for KidsAbility. They’ve helped our whole family. We couldn’t be more grateful.”
In addition to the shiny new surroundings and equipment, KidsAbility’s Guelph Hub will allow them to offer new programs focused on youth and host specialized clinics only previously available at KidsAbility’s sites in Waterloo Region.
As well, the new Guelph Hub boasts a full-sized Resource Centre available to the community, large group therapy rooms, community space and more.
In 2017 over 800 children and youth in Guelph-Wellington benefited from services and supports at KidsAbility.
They help with everything from overcoming a stutter to helping people learn to walk.
“It is a reminder to me of the privilege and the responsibility we have all been given to support the children and the families of KidsAbility to ensure they can achieve their full potential,” said board member and former Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer.
KidsAbility's Guelph Hub is located at 503 Imperial Rd. N.