33 Million-Dollar Provincial Autism Family Foundation Breaks Ground
State-of-the-art facility and provincial network to support individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders
Richmond, BC (December 16, 2014) – Today the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation (PAFCF) officially launches a comprehensive provincial network to support individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum and related disorders through a “hub and spoke modelled centre of excellence”.
The groundbreaking of the 58,000 square foot building and network, in large part made possible through the leadership provided by a $20Million grant from the Province of British Columbia, marks an important step toward bringing an inspired vision to life.
Designed to be a core of knowledge and support, in tandem with other future satellite facilities located across B.C., the PAFCF will bring together state-of-the-art research, information, learning, treatment and support systems. In addition to its array of resources, it will strive to highlight the lifespan needs of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum and related disorders (ASD) in British Columbia.
The planning of the PAFCF has been a thorough and collaborative process over the past six years. Innovative, wired classrooms, lecture theatres and new technologies will allow for ideas and services to spread beyond the walls of the facility and its satellites, while enabling massive outreach efforts to serve individuals, province-wide. The PAFCF will help steer parents through the difficult autism world.
“The PAFCF has been envisioned to meet the needs of families across our province. Without duplicating services we intend to build on resources available in a collaborative supportive model to put families and individuals first.” says Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia (Founders of the PAFCF). “Today we celebrate and thank the people who have dedicated so graciously of their time and money to get us to this point, specifically the leadership provided by our naming donor and the Province of B.C. As such, we are pleased to announce today that GoodLife Fitness has made a $5 Million commitment to help support the development of the Centre(our family hub). The new name of the building will be the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub.”
David Patchell-Evans, GoodLife Fitness Founder & CEO has a very personal relationship with autism and has been a significant supporter of autism research for many years.
“Fitness has been my passion for 35 years,” says Patch. “I love helping Canadians live fit and healthy lives. Whether it has been obstacles in business or the challenge of living with rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve always felt I had some control over the outcomes. What I have not chosen, and at many times have felt overwhelmed by, is the devastation of being a father with a daughter who has been profoundly affected by Autism. When my little girl was diagnosed, help was virtually non-existent. Today, I have hope. Today, I have hope that parents can get reliable information. That children will be screened at an early age, not waiting years for a diagnosis. Hope, thanks to the strides being made by research including our own Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group. I have hope because of devoted parents such as Wendy and Sergio who have brought us to this point in time. So while autism has been the greatest challenge in my life, the place where at times I felt powerless, I have learned that I can help. I can contribute and I can share my journey with others. My wife Silken Laumann has chosen to be a committed step-parent and has been an unbelievable force at my side for the past six years. I am so very grateful to be a part of this project with everyone, IT IS A PHENOMENAL COLLABORATION. I have hope for everyone with Autism and their families.”
The GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub is slated for completion in early 2016.
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About the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation
And the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub
We are creating a place where children and families facing the challenges of autism and related disorders can access the information, treatment models, research and support in one starting place. It will serve Autism and related disorders including similar challenges in developmental disabilities, and learning challenges. With 69,000 people on the Autism spectrum living in BC, and 80 children diagnosed every month in the province, this is a much-needed initiative for BC families. The project will focus on serving families across BC with a navigator program and collaboration with other organizations.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental condition that impacts typical brain growth. As a spectrum disorder, ASD has a wide variation in how it affects each person (their needs, skills and abilities). However there are some common characteristics including difficulties with communication and social interactions, repetitive interests and activities, and stereotypic motor behaviors.
ASD occurs in approximately 1 in every 68 births, and may appear during the first three years of life. It is four to five times more common in boys than girls — affecting 1 in every 42 boys — and is the most common neurological disorder in children. Given the 1 in 68 prevalence rate, it is estimated that there are approximately 69,000 people affected by ASD in BC.