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Annapolis Valley autism chapter gets helping hands


Published on September 8, 2017

The Annapolis Valley Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia was the recipient of the Retired Teachers Organization (RTO) Legacy Foundation Award for 2017. From left are Bill Berryman, president RTO; Sandy Wing, chapter navigator, Annapolis Valley Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia; Linda MacNeil, member-at-large, Valley Region RTO. In front is Jillian Culham.

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AYLESFORD, NS - The Annapolis Valley Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia has been recognized by the NSTU Retired Teachers Organization (RTO) with the presentation of the 2017 Legacy Foundation Award in support of Camp Spectrum.

The chapter has also received support from Unity in Autism enabling them to send 16 kids to the Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association facility in Aylesford.

“It was really exciting to receive the Legacy Foundation Award,” said Sandy Wing, coordinator for the chapter.

The award, which was a monetary donation of $800, went towards Camp Spectrum, the chapter’s summer day camp for children and youth with autism.

Camp Spectrum is unique in the Valley community, providing adapted programming and one-on-one support for each and every camper.  The camp is in its eighth year and runs over seven weeks in four different locations throughout the Annapolis Valley.

Wing said 37 kids were able to take advantage of the camp over the course of the summer. With one-on-one counselling required, the camp is only able to accommodate five or six kids a week.

“We get quite a few applications” for Camp Spectrum, said Wing, with the wait list increasing every year.

Wing said the chapter has just started a program with the Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association in Aylesford, thanks to “a grant from Unity in Autism that has enabled us to send 16 kids to take the five-week course for nothing. It has been an amazing experience for our kids.”

Meanwhile, at the Autism Centre in Kingston, it’s busy, said Wing, with numerous volunteer-run programs such as social groups for children, teens and adults, a pre-school playgroup, information sessions, educational workshops, parent support groups and family events offered on an on-going basis. Wing said the Chapter is hoping to expand social group sessions into New Minas, noting students at Acadia University help run a social group in the Wolfville area.

Wing said the Annapolis Valley Autism Chapter supports about 250 families from Windsor down to Annapolis Royal. With the exception of Wing, who is employed part-time, the chapter is ran by volunteers, donations, sponsors and fundraising.

Anyone wanting more information about the chapter can contact them by phone at 902-242-2019 or by email at annapolisvalley@autismns.ca.