Grant from SurreyCares gave families more opportunities for those special moments.
As a parent, you likely don’t forget when your child took their first steps. For parents who witnessed their child’s first steps at The Centre for Child Development’s hydrotherapy pool, it’s a moment they certainly won’t forget.
Personally, the greatest aspect of my volunteer work at SurreyCares is hearing about the heart-warming stories happening in this ever-growing city. Alison Obrecht, VP of the Child Development Foundation of BC, offered up a few of those stories to SurreyCares.
“Our centre served 3,140 children last year,” Obrecht said. “At some point, the majority of them would benefit from using the hydrotherapy pool. That’s not to say that they all used the pool, but children with cerebral palsy, muscular-degenerative diseases, and autism all can benefit from using it.”
Not only can they benefit from using the pool, but stories of triumph are crafted in some cases.
“Our pool is often, honestly, where some children end up taking their first steps. Not babies, but children who are three, four, or five years old. Through the guidance of their therapist and the warmth of the pool, it helps their muscles relax.” The happiness of the parents, the child and therapist leaves a lasting impression.
“When I hear stories about children taking their first steps, it hits you right in the heart. I saw a mom about a month ago waiting for her ride and she had a huge smile on her face, I talked to her and she had tears in her eyes and said, ‘my daughter took her first steps today.’ These are life-changing moments for families.”
Grant gives the gift of time
A survey of parents and caregivers done by Obrecht and the Centre for Child Development highlighted one major issue with the hydrotherapy pool.
Parents and caregivers were missing out on opportunities for witnessing these magical moments because availability outside of working hours at the pool was scarce.
“When we did a deep dive, we found that mothers carry the burden of most care-giving situations. We found that it was difficult for parents, and fathers in particular, to attend these sessions during the work week.
“That’s when we applied to SurreyCares, and their grant has allowed us to keep the pool open on Saturday’s once a month. The support from SurreyCares has been huge. We’ve seen usage of the pool go up in the last six months because of SurreyCares.”
The extra hours have not only allowed families to spend more time in the hydrotherapy pool, but it’s taken some of that extra stress away from parents as well.
“Mothers have to learn physio, teach it to their kid, and describe it to the other parent,” Obrecht said. “It’s all added stress. Opening on Saturday’s gave both caregivers the ability to join in with appointments, and it has also given families who wouldn’t normally use our pool, the opportunity to come.
So, what is a hydrotherapy pool?
There are numerous features that make a hydrotherapy pool different from a regular pool, according to Obrecht.
“The hydrotherapy pool is 34 degrees Celsius, whereas community pools are 28 Celsius,” she said. “A lot of our children have mobility issues and they will get cold very quickly in a 28-degree pool. At 34 degrees, they won’t get over-heated. Their muscles and ligaments can just relax.
“We’re one of the only hydrotherapy pools south of the Fraser, and it’s such a fantastic space because our pool just lets kids be kids.”
Part of letting kids be kids involves hosting activities that bring smiles to their faces. There are a few programs like that happening in Surrey’s lone hydrotherapy pool.
“We have different programs for the kids, and one is called Sing and Splash,” said Obrecht. During this program, a Communications Therapist and Physiotherapist work with a group of moms, singing and splashing at the same time.
“These kinds of programs give caregivers the opportunity to let kids enjoy themselves. Sometimes, it can be isolating to be a kid living with special needs, and a lot of these programs give kids a chance to have fun. At the end of these sessions, everyone from the kids to the parents to the caregivers have smiles on their faces.”
If you’re interested in supporting programs run at the hydrotherapy pool, you can make a donation by going to www.the-centre.org. You have the option to donate to The Centre directly, or you can also donate to Sophie’s Place.
“By donating, you’re opening the doors for 3,140 children to continue using and enjoying our facilities,” Obrecht said.