Pacific Autism Family Network, along with lead sponsor, GoodLife Fitness, opens the GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub. The state-of-the-art facility is the first-of-its-kind in North America. The Knowledge Centre provides support for individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and all related disorders.
“It’s been an amazing journey developing the Hub thanks to the help of generous sponsors and donors,” says Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, co-founder and Fundraising Chair, PAFN. “Since breaking ground nearly two years ago, our supporters and volunteers have continued to give their time, money and passion to create a space for those with ASD to thrive.”
“Our hub and spoke network will be resource for families across B.C.,” says Sergio Cocchia, co-founder and Board Chair, PAFN. “This provincial Centre of Excellence will seek to build capacity throughout BC across the lifespan and we hope will spur awareness and catalyze action across the country.”
In British Columbia, there are an estimated 69,000 people living with Autism, and the Autism Hub is a central space for families needing support as they navigate ASD and related disorders. With specialists across all areas, the Hub hosts programs focused on life span and transition, clinical practices and assessment of individuals with ASD, and is home to the Variety Children’s Treatment Centre, as well as information and resource centres.
“The kids and families touched by Autism and related disorders are some of the bravest, most impressive people you will ever meet – but sometimes, they need our help and support,” says Premier Christy Clark. “There is a wide range of Autism programs and services available to them, and for the first time, they can all be found in the same place.”
“With the launch of the Hub, British Columbia becomes a leader in ASD research,” says Dr. Gabe Kalmar, President and CEO, PAFN. “As the prevalence of ASD and related disorders grow, it is important that families across the province have access to innovative programs and services.”
GoodLife Fitness Founder and CEO David ‘Patch’ Patchell-Evans has a 20-year old daughter, Kilee, on the Autism spectrum and has been a significant supporter of Autism research for many years.
“As a parent, I know how often the challenges of Autism seem insurmountable – random outbursts, self-injurious behaviour, the frustration of not being able to communicate, sleepless nights. The worst part was feeling alone in my struggle,” says Patchell-Evans. “I hope the massive reach of this hub and its resources will help BC families feel supported and that it will make a huge difference in the areas of research, education and outreach. GoodLife is proud to play a role in providing hope and a path forward for as many families as we can.”
While located in the Lower Mainland, the Hub will extend its reach across the province through technology, outreach, workshops and additional spokes opening in the near future. The technology and spokes will provide opportunity for those living outside of Metro Vancouver access to the expertise available at the Hub.