Autism Okanagan has been thriving over the past two and a half years since our official beginning in June 2014. With the launch of our new website, I thought I would give our community an update on our programs and where we see ourselves going in the coming year and the future.
Our programs and events are some of our core contributions to the community and these fit with our vision to provide support to individuals and families living with ASD.
We now have two hockey programs. Our team for children under 16 years old is called the Kelowna Wildcats, and our new 16 years to adult team is called the Kelowna Wild. Thanks to Director Phil von Unruh who has tirelessly developed and run both these programs.
Our Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) has been up and running for a year with great success. Director Joanne Brennan supports this program along with our two young leaders, Beau Loomer and Zoe Bigwood. Thanks to the young adults, 18-25 years, who consistently attend and participate in YAP. Their enthusiasm, spirit and growth is amazing.
Kelowna Realtors, Quincey and Tracey Vrecko, organize and sponsor the AOK Sensitive Santa event at Orchard Park Mall. This event was held on two nights in December 2016, allowing more than 75 families to spend time with Santa in an autism-friendly environment. A great big thanks to Orchard Park Mall, the photographer and all the volunteers who helped make this event happen.
Our Mom’s Night Out event and the Fall Family Picnic were a huge success in their launch this past year. We look forward to these events being bigger and better in 2017.
In December 2016, AOK was able to hire Sheila Tansey to provide part-time Administrative Support. In addition to being a mom with two teenage boys with ASD, she is an artist, web designer and administrator. The addition of Sheila to our team allows us to do more and be more efficient. Welcome, Sheila!
Thanks to Twin Creek Media for helping us with our improved website, launched January 2016. We will endeavour to keep our website up-to-date and hope that it will become a go-to place for all things autism in the Okanagan.
Our Goals for 2017
This year we plan to continue to:
- improve our existing programs and add new ones
- support Rider Cider Ride for Autism, the Kelowna Autism Walk, the BMO marathon and other community events
- collaborate with the Pacific Autism Family Network, the Autism Society of BC, and Canucks Autism Network and the Okanagan community to create a Centre for Autism Support in Kelowna
Throughout the past year, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to AOK for support. We’ve also been blessed by wonderful individuals, businesses and organizations who’ve contributed with gifts of time or donations to help grow our organization. It takes a community…
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