Jennifer Clark, fund development officer at Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre, gives a tour of the downtown Red Deer building on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Helping special needs children for more than 30 years

Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre helps hundreds of families every year in Central Alberta.

Families, long-time supporter, sponsors and members of the media toured the Aspire building in downtown Red Deer on Wednesday to see the latest changes to the building.

Michelle Sluchinski, Aspire executive director, said it’s important to have a charitable organization like this in the community.

“If you’re a parent seeking support or programs, we address those needs,” she said. “If you have a child and you notice there’s something a little different or something you can’t quite put your finger on, it causes a lot of worry for parents.”

Aspire was founded in 1985 by parents who had children with special needs. It started out as one program, but has now developed into an organization that provides multiple services and programming for children with special needs.

The three core arms of the organization are its assessment and diagnostics program, specialized pre-school and individualized services.

Aspire serves about 350 children a year through these programs, but serves closer to 2,500 through its intake and referrals.

The specialized pre-school program serves 56 children from September to June.

The assessment and diagnostics program, which serves 60 children a year, helps families discover what needs a child has, said Sluchinski.

“If you have a five-year-old or seven-year-old who are trying to navigate through the education system – they really need that diagnosis to get the support they need,” she said.

The program helps families create a definitive strategy on how to help a child, Sluchinski added.

“I’m so privileged to be a part of this team,” said Sluchinski. “This staff comes to work everyday with the children at the top of their minds and they want to do the best for those children and their families.”

Aspire serves families from Red Deer, Blackfalds, Sylvan Lake, Innisfail, Stettler and elsewhere in Central Alberta.

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