It’s a special time of year for children in Red Deer with special needs as Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre begins another year of their therapy based pre-school program.
“It’s a program for children who are aged two and a half to six years who may be diagnosed with some type of delay. We run two classrooms in the pre-school and have 56 children per year in the program,” said Aspire’s Executive Director Michelle Sluchinski.
The name Aspire is new to the organization which was formerly known as Children’s Services Centre (CSC) and Sluchinski said it’s a transition for a lot of people to get used to the new name.
It’s not just the name Aspire that is new either, Sluchinski started with Aspire as the executive director in November of 2012 and she said it’s nearing that one-year mark, but she still feels new.
“It’s like you have to complete the whole year’s cycle before you stop being new.”
However, she said she is very excited about the new year in the pre-school program due to its successes in the past.
Another program that Sluchinski said is vital to the community and is unique to Aspire is the TAC program.
“It’s really an assessment and diagnostic program. It’s the Trans-disciplinary Assessment and Consultation program.”
She said what the TAC program offers is a six week in-class program where parents bring their child to an assessment team.
“These are parents who aren’t sure what is up, but they know they have questions about their child. During the program a team of teachers, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech and language pathologists and behavioural specialists observe and play with the child,” said Sluchinski.
The goal of the program is for the team of specialists to report back to the parent things that they saw in their time with the child.
“They are really just trying to understand what might be happening with the child and give parents a report on their child’s strengths. It’s just a great program, and very unique.”
Aspire is also known in the community for their You Can Ride Two program which teaches and encourages special needs children to ride a bicycle by teaching the basics.
“The program is coming in to its third year this coming spring and has really shown a lot of success.”
As executive director, Sluchinski said she has goals for Aspire but that she came in with a background of 20-plus years in fund development.
“The organization has a priority of growth through fund development, so it was just a great fit. It went from meeting the previous executive director to an opening of an opportunity that I’ve since fallen in love with.”
One of her goals as executive director includes developing sustainable funds. She said the community of parents of the children have great needs and would love to see more and varied programming.
“We have an amazing staff component that are very qualified and smart, and we could offer so much more if we had the capacity.”
Sluchinski added that the organization is always looking for volunteers for events including their Evening of Decadent Desserts coming up in May.
“We will be needing volunteers to sell raffle tickets and help with the event for sure. We have a family of people from Aspire that help from year to year, but we are always looking to expand that family.”
For more information or to find out about volunteer opportunities contact Sluchinski at 403-340-2606 or MSluchinski@aspirespecialneeds.ca.