A celebration took place at the Child Development Centre (CDC) in Williams Lake on Saturday Sept. 28, highlighting 40 years serving children and families in the Cariboo Chilcotin, the launch of a new book about the CDC and the announcement of a large expansion that includes an autism centre at the rear of the property.
Current CDC board president Jerry Tickner welcomed the crowd and said a huge thank you was due to board member Elaine Watt who compiled and wrote the book, Child Development Centre: 40 Years Working with the Community.
He said that the book has been in the works for a year.
“I’m sure Elaine had no idea what she was getting into when she volunteered to do the book,” he said. “She’s gone to a lot of work finding people and finding facts and finding information and then putting it all together,” he explained.
Watt said what she learned first and foremost during her research is that the CDC has served the children and families of Williams Lake for 40 years.
“They started with a preschool, a physical and occupational therapist and evolved as the needs of children and families changed over the years. But the most interesting thing of all was that the only reason this place exists is because of the people of this town. Building the facility and maintaining the programs were accomplished by countless fundraising efforts by individuals, businesses and groups in the community,” she said. “Over the years there have been many innovative ways of raising money to support the programs offered here.”
She introduced CDC founder Aileen Hewett, adding that Hewett worked tirelessly over the years to build, guide and create what CDC has today, as well as what they’re becoming as they move toward the future.
“She would be the very first to tell you that she did not do it alone,” she noted, adding that over the past 40 years CDC has had 10 board presidents, 120 board members and eight executive directors.
“We started with three staff members 40 years ago and we now have 40 employees. We started by serving six children and our latest report shows 979 services delivered to 594 children this last year,” she explained.
“We’ve come a long, long way. It is absolutely impossible to count the number of volunteers who have helped in countless ways; thousands have helped with fundraising and hundreds have worked with building and grounds projects over the years and hundreds more have helped with many community projects. Volunteers are our mainstay for things like our swim and horse programs, camping, fishing and preschool and more.”
CDC executive director Nancy Gale explained that new construction at the centre, the result of a successful grant proposal, includes three new offices and three new treatment stations, as well as a free-standing, wheelchair-accessible autism centre.
The new centre will be set up like a house, with a teaching kitchen, one-on-one meeting areas, and a communal living area media room with access to the Pacific Autism Centre.
Ron Malmas, CDC board member, said that launching the book is exciting.
“The relationship with the community is integral, and it’s the whole region not just Williams Lake,” he noted. “There are no borders when it comes to helping kids.”
Watt said that the most important thing she learned while compiling the book is that the CDC serves Williams Lake and Williams Lake serves the CDC. “Together we have made a big difference in the lives of children,” she said. “But we’re not done yet: we’re still investing in kids.”
The book is available at the CDC office at 690 Second Avenue; for more information about services available through the Child Development Centre, phone 250-392-4481.