The third annual Walk for Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre will take place this weekend on June 6th at Parkland school, beginning at 11 a.m. with a barbeque lunch and activities to follow.
The walk serves as a time for families who access Aspire services to spend time together in the community, while also raising money to support the organization and each other. There is a registration fee of $40 for families and $10 for individuals. The walk is open to Aspire friends and families but also community members.
“This walk was created three years ago by moms. It was parents of the children who attended Aspire and they all sort of connected with each other very strongly. Peer support is always the best – you get to talk to other moms about your children and share stories. They felt that they wanted to be like any other family and wanted to be able to connect outside of this building,” said Aspire Executive Director Michelle Sluchinski.
“They wanted to be able to go to the park, to have a walk and to support an organization that they really believed in, and raise a little bit of money. That was sort of the side benefit in the beginning. It has changed a bit and last year they raised almost $10,000 just by those parents and participants collecting pledges.
“Now, it’s not only those parents that come out but we also get many of our Aspire staff and we also have grandparents, and friends and family who just want to support those families in their journey with their children,” she said.
The walk will be held at Parkland School where there is a barrier-free playground available for families after the walk. The registration fees will also cover a barbeque lunch that follows the short walk.
The route is wheelchair accessible, and all walkers, guide dogs and specialized strollers are welcome.
Families will raise money by collecting donations and pledges that will go towards supporting Aspire programs such as their scholarship. The scholarship program helps remove financial barriers for families that need to access the Aspire services and programs.
“The families raise money by collecting pledges. We’ve added a new aspect to that this year in that we’ve got the opportunity for people to do online pledging on our web site. However, many of the parents will also just sort of take an envelope and off they go collecting pledges from their friends and families,” said Sluchinski.
“Like I said, last year there was almost $10,000 that was raised. We were so grateful and excited because that is tremendous for our organization. That just goes straight to our annual operating needs.”
She said the moms who organize the walk understand that the money they raise not only supports Aspire, but supports other families who need help accessing the services. The scholarship program is entirely community-funded, and Sluchinski said this is an extremely important part of Aspire.
“The parents that started Aspire 30 years ago believed there should not be any financial barriers for families and that was the philosophy that we’ve kept up to this day. If someone needs the service, or diagnosis or the support, we are there for them. We do that through help from this very generous Central Alberta community.”