Riley is a 9-year-old girl who came to SKOP when she was 6 months old when her mother Kim began attending SKOP’s Parent-Child Play Group. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after she was born due to having a stroke “in utero” and shortly after she was born. The doctors informed Riley’s parents that she would “likely not walk, talk, see or hear”, leaving the new parents devastated with this news.

Kim appreciated the Play Group offered by SKOP because it allowed her to meet with other parents with special needs children and spend structured play time with Riley. As Riley became engaged in the activities and structure of the program, her parents felt that she should be enrolled full time in SKOP’s Child Care Centre.

As time passed, it became clear that Kim and Jeffrey were overwhelmed with caring for the unique day to day needs of their daughter which was taking a physical and emotion toll on them. 

Riley with her family

In observing this, SKOP offered a respite day to Kim and Jeffrey, allowing them some “me time”. This was so successful for both Riley and her parents that Kim and Jeffrey allowed themselves to access this support when needed, without feeling guilty in doing so.

Despite having two strokes and being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, this did not affect SKOP’s outlook on their ability to help Riley to learn and grow to her full potential. Over the years, as Riley attended SKOP and accessed the various services offered by its community partners, she slowly began walking, talking, learning and growing. At age 4 she successfully graduated from the Child Care Centre to attend a specialized School Program in the community. She was a true example of how “Structure + Expectations + Consistency = Success”.

In reflecting on Riley’s 4 years in the Program, Jeffrey stated, “Their [SKOP] unique programs and exceptional one-on-one interaction with the kids along with their understanding and empathy helped make an immediate impact in the physical and academic development in Riley’s life. We also felt comfortable and confident that they had the best intentions for Riley which put our hearts and minds at ease. This reason alone helped make the sacrifice of driving from Brooklyn to Ajax and back twice a day for 4 years’ worth every minute”.

Riley is still involved with SKOP through their Early Intervention and Tutoring Programs and Respite Services. This child, whose prognosis was that she would likely not walk, talk, see or hear, grew to be a “helper” in the SKOP classroom. Her dad Jeffrey recently stated, “…this place is like a second home for her…actually she feels like she owns the place and looks forward to helping the younger children with their activities and routines”.

Not only did Riley grow and excelled while attending SKOP, but her parents became an integral part of the Centre. They are committed supporters of SKOP and Jeffrey was one of the key Speakers at the Fall’s “Parents Inspiring Parents” Seminar. Seeing the growth in their daughter and remembering the words of her doctor nine years before, Kim and Jeffrey celebrate the accomplishments of their “true gift from God”.

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