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Niagara Children’s Centre launches annual Help Kids Shine campaign

April 27, 2023

Families display $300,000 fundraising goal to audience

Niagara Children’s Centre launches annual Help Kids Shine campaign

The 20th anniversary of the event looks to set a new milestone with $300,000 campaign goal

St. Catharines, ON – As Elizabeth Chambers took to the stage and approached the podium with her son, William, and daughter, Daisy, the room fell silent.

All eyes and ears were on the mother of three children, as she shared her personal journey raising William, considered Medically Fragile and Medically Complex, to an audience of more than 120 people.

“We were exhausted and overwhelmed with learning about trachs, j tubes, secretion management, and learning the whole medical terminology that we needed to know for William’s care,” said Chambers.

William’s disabilities occurred due to a traumatic brain injury at birth. This resulted in him having severe Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), severe Cerebral Palsy (CP), autonomic dysregulation, hyponatremia, and more. He is also deaf, blind, non-verbal, a spastic quadriplegic, has a tracheostomy and a surgical tube for feeding.

Surrounded by the support of Niagara Children’s Centre since infancy, the five-year-old has been receiving occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work and speech-language therapy from the rehabilitation centre in St. Catharines.

“He has learned how to roll over, use a stander for a few hours each day, communicates using facial expressions and some signs that he has taught us,” said Chambers. “He has defied all odds and continues to surprise us all.”

Her powerful speech set the tone for the Children’s Centre's 20th annual Help Kids Shine campaign which kicked off on Thursday, April 27 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Thorold.

The event was well attended by political dignitaries, campaign sponsors, community supporters as well as board members, staff and volunteers from the organization.

The event also introduced 17 families who use, or have used, the Centre for services and support as campaign Ambassadors. The Chambers family was selected from the group to present as a guest speaker.

“There is no such thing as an easy outing,” she said. “Just going out for a walk around the block or taking a quick drive to the store for milk is a process.”

Throughout the month of May, the Chambers family, along with 16 other ambassador families, will share their stories online and through radio interviews to educate the Niagara community about the therapy and support services the Centre provides.

“Truthfully, one of the most amazing things the Centre has provided for us is a village,” said Chambers. “The Centre has worked hard to give us a place where we can connect through others, with an annual parent and caregiver conference, monthly parent talk meetings, coffee hours and activity evenings.”

Each year, nearly 5,300 children and youth in Niagara with physical, developmental and communicative delays are supported by the range of services offered at the Centre. Those services are made possible, in part, by the Centre’s annual Help Kids Shine fundraising campaign that encourages community donations throughout the month of May to support to programs and services for families.

“Help Kids Shine provides us with the financial support needed to help more children and their families in Niagara,” said Oksana Fisher, CEO, Niagara Children’s Centre. “Funds raised also help support additional programs that are not covered by provincial government funding, such as recreation therapy, behavioural consultation services, family-to-family support programs and aquatics.”

Fisher attributes a great deal of campaign success to the Centre’s dedicated sponsors and ongoing partnership with Bell Media stations Newstalk 610 CKTB, 97.7 HTZ FM and Move 105.7.

Tim Denis, host of Niagara in the Morning on NewsTalk 610 CKTB, emceed the event and spoke on behalf of Bell Media at the launch event, highlighting the longstanding partnership with Niagara Children’s Centre.

“The Children’s Centre is a vital, integral part of Niagara,” said Denis. “An indispensable resource for families across the region and CKTB, along with Bell Media, has been a proud partner in telling that story from the beginning.”

To help the Centre achieve this year’s milestone, O’Hara Trucking & Excavating has signed on as the monthly donor matching sponsor, pledging up to $25,000 to monthly donations made during the campaign.

“Monthly donations are so important to the Children’s Centre because they provide a sustainable source of funding that allows us to plan more strategically,” said Fisher. “Thanks to the support of the O’Hara’s, every dollar pledged by our community to support our children and families is doubled.”

Supporting the Centre holds special meaning for the St. Catharines construction company. In 1984, Dan and Sharon O’Hara’s daughter Katie was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the cavities within the brain.

“Niagara Children’s Centre helped us so much,” said Sharon O’Hara. “They guided us through all the resources for funding and provided Katie with therapy from physio to speech. I really got to know the staff and the other families and it was a welcoming community.”

The Niagara community is encouraged to follow the Centre’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and tune in for upcoming radio interviews with broadcast partner Bell Media properties such as 610 CKTB to learn more about how they can support the Centre.

Visit HelpKidsShine.ca to learn more about this year’s ambassadors and to see how your donation can help provide every child in Niagara with the opportunity to reach their full potential.


About Niagara Children’s Centre:
Niagara Children’s Centre provided rehabilitation and support services to nearly 5,300 children and youth last year across the Niagara Region with physical, developmental and communicative delays. The range of services include: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services, augmentative and alternative communication, family services and therapeutic recreation.

Photo caption:
Help Kids Shine Ambassador families announce the campaign's fundraising goal of $300,000 at the Four Points by Sheraton in St. Catharines, ON. 

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