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Niagara Children’s Centre expands locations across the region

March 24, 2023

Niagara Children’s Centre expands locations across the region

A group of people at a ribbon cutting ceremony 

The rehabilitation and treatment centre has opened new locations inside local YMCAs

St. Catharines, ON – The long drive from Port Colborne to St. Catharines to attend therapy at Niagara Children’s Centre was always taxing on Amanda Minor and her family.

She believed in the benefits of attending regular sessions but navigating to appointments with her nephew for occupational therapy and her son for speech therapy added to an already stressful experience.

The Children’s Centre has been serving all 12 of the region’s municipalities from its facility atop the escarpment on Glenridge Avenue in St. Catharines for nearly 50 years. They’ve enabled thousands of children and youth with physical, developmental and communicative delays or disabilities to achieve their optimal potential within their home, school and community environments.

“While this location is centrally within the Niagara region, and on a transit route, it still represents a great distance for many families,” said Oksana Fisher, CEO, Niagara Children’s Centre. “For those reliant on public transit, travelling can be even more challenging, particularly with a child who requires additional supports.”

With a strategic focus on ease of access to their services for all families in Niagara, the search began for a location that was accessible, well-known in the community and family-friendly.

“YMCA of Niagara became a clear choice,” said Fisher. “The organization is known for being community and mission-based, and their locations offer surrounding families a more convenient way to ensure their child finds the support they need.”

After months of development, the Children’s Centre announced the opening of two new satellite locations in the region, located inside the YMCAs of Niagara Centre and Niagara West. The organization marked the new direction with grand opening events at the Grimsby location on March 24 and the Welland location on March 29.

While the new sites will help alleviate demand and bring easier access to therapy and support programs, Fisher sees the openings are merely a starting point for the organizations.

“There are a number of synergies between our agencies, which could present opportunities for future collaboration,” said Fisher. “From our early year’s programs to our recreation activities, there are countless ways that Niagara families could benefit.”

The YMCA of Niagara echoed Fisher’s sentiments, noting that their collective vision, mission and values align perfectly in supporting children and youth to reach their full potential.

“YMCAs are centres of community,” Christian Wulff, interim CEO, YMCA of Niagara. “The partnership between Niagara Children’s Centre and the YMCA provides an opportunity for families to engage multiple services that enable them to thrive. I am proud to be in partnership with another not-for-profit striving to make our communities healthier and more accessible for all families.”

The development of the Niagara Centre location was made possible by community support, including the Rotary Club of Welland which donated more than $33,000 worth of therapy supplies and equipment. The club is no stranger to supporting the Centre, being involved as a charter member in 1964, a contributor to their capital campaign expansion in 1996 and a regular supporter over the years.

Since attending appointments at the new location in Welland, Minor has seen her son’s ability to communicate come a long way with the family.

“Using sign (ASL) seems to be his favourite form of communication,” said Minor. “Since we have started using signs, he has developed some speech to go along with the signs, like up and down, open and close, Mama and Dada, and hi. He loves to copy what we do and has been learning so much. It's amazing to watch him learn.”

At the west end of the region, Emilia Farrace Amaro and her family, who moved to the region last year from Toronto, were pleased to discover that they now only need to drive from their home in Beamsville to Grimsby for appointments.

“The time we save allows us more opportunities to explore the greenbelt, share in fun adventures as a family and make new friends in the area,” said Farrace Amaro.

Her daughter, Anneliese, has shown great strides since she started attending the Children’s Centre in November 2022 for speech and language therapy.

“Anneliese’s ability to communicate and share her wants and needs since starting with Niagara Children's Centre has improved dramatically,” she said. “Anneliese is progressing so well and absorbing the tools we're receiving during sessions.”

For Farrace Amaro, having a space to go to for questions and clarifications about how to best support Anneliese has been so important to her family.

“If I need help clarifying anything, or expressing something, we're able to connect with our therapist and receive prompt, easy to understand and helpful techniques to make things better,” said Farrace Amaro. “I'm really excited and hopeful for her as she continues to grow and flourish.”

The organization is hopeful that the new locations provide easier access to their services and reduce a key barrier for families trying to ensure their child receives the support they need. Families interested in learning more about the Children’s Centre are encouraged to visit their website or contact them by phone at (905) 688-1890, ext. 110.


About Niagara Children’s Centre:
Niagara Children’s Centre provided rehabilitation and support services to over 6,500 children and youth last year across the Niagara Region with physical, developmental and communicative delays. The range of services includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services, augmentative and alternative communication, family services and therapeutic recreation.

For further information contact:
Michael Morrison, Marketing & Communications Officer
Phone: 905-688-1890 ext 260
Email: michael.morrison@niagarachildrenscentre.com
Web: www.niagarachildrenscentre.com

Photo caption:
Local dignitaries, families and senior leadership from both the YMCA of Niagara and Niagara Children's Centre officially open the Children’s Centre newest location inside Niagara West YMCA.