Hello DSRF families,
We hope you are all staying safe and healthy during these incredibly altered times!
We want you to know that we are all working very hard to get telepractice sessions up and running for our DSRF students in lieu of in-person therapy and teaching. This model of service delivery is new to DSRF, so we ask for your patience both with beginning the service, as well as working out any glitches that may come up as we move along. To provide enough development time for this new service, we will delay the start of therapy and teaching sessions at the originally scheduled block start (March 30th). However, we expect to contact each family individually within the first two weeks of this block to begin the process.
During this period, we remain committed to providing our services at no charge to families who need it most. However, we have also heard from families who have funding for our services from other sources. For example, the Autism Funding Unit and the At-Home Program have both confirmed that they will fund telepractice sessions. Families have asked that this funding be used to pay for the services they receive, to assist DSRF in providing no-cost services for families who do not have other funding resources. We are deeply grateful, but not surprised, that our community is pulling together in this fashion. As a result, we will work with individual families to assess needs and alternative funding opportunities.
In the meantime, stay tuned to our social media and our new section on the DSRF website for ideas around activities you can do at home: Learn at Home http://dsrf.org/LearnAtHome. We'll be adding one or two new, fun things each day!
Stay strong, everyone!
Susan Fawcett and Eleanor Stewart
March 17, 2020
To: Our Community
Fr. Wayne Leslie, Chief Executive Officer, Down Syndrome Resource Foundation
RE: COVID-19 Update – DSRF Services & Support
I wanted to personally reach out to DSRF families, supporters and British Columbians to provide an update on actions DSRF is taking to support local and provincial efforts to prevent further spread of the coronavirus and protect the health, safety and well-being of BC’s Down syndrome community. Since closing last week for our usual Spring Break, we have continued regular cleaning of our facilities and limited staff activity at these locations to enhance and preserve cleanliness.
As a result of today’s announcement by the Province of BC that schools will remain closed and in-person services are suspended indefinitely, DSRF will also remain closed and is suspending all in-person services indefinitely.
We recognize and acknowledge the difficulty this imposes for families who rely on us. We do not take suspension of our essential services lightly, but the health of our families, the health of our team members and the health of British Columbia, is foremost in our mind. We believe an integral part of this approach is being completely in step with the guidance and actions that government and health officials are taking to protect organizations like DSRF, such as schools. We are continually monitoring this situation and in contact with the appropriate agencies to stay on top of the issue.
In the interim, our dedicated team of specialized therapists, teachers and support staff are developing strategies to provide continuity of care and a level of service and support for our families to help them through this very difficult time. We anticipate these will include options for clients, students and parents, to speak directly with members of our team either by phone or online.
We understand that along with the serious health concerns being faced, the current situation may be placing families under immense financial pressure. For this reason, and until further notice, all DSRF services will be provided free of charge.
We hope that in some small way, it gives families of individuals with Down syndrome comfort knowing their health, safety and well-being remains our #1 priority.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the supporters who have contacted us asking how they can help, in their own way, our efforts to protect and assist those who are most vulnerable during this unprecedented crisis. We are humbled by your willingness to think of others during what we know is also a difficult time for yourselves.
For the past 25 years, DSRF has provided essential services to British Columbia’s Down syndrome community, through good times and bad. We remain resolute that, working together, hand-in-hand, we will successfully navigate this very challenging period.
At the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, the health and safety of our clients/students, their families, our employees, volunteers and supporters is the number one priority. Considering the continuing news regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with the recommendations of health officials, DSRF has decided to cancel or postpone a number of upcoming events, including:
Our New Parents Series workshop on toileting with Hina Mahmood (Mar. 14) – to be rescheduled
The World Down Syndrome Day/25th Anniversary Family Skating Party (Mar. 20) – cancelled
Kelowna workshop on Positive Behaviour Support with Jillian Baldwin (Mar. 28) – to be rescheduled
Up the Down Market Toronto (Apr. 23) – to be rescheduled for the fall
All individualized DSRF services (including speech and occupational therapy, one to one reading and math, mental wellness and positive behaviour support) are already scheduled to be off from March 16-27 for Spring Break. Out of an abundance of caution and in support of community efforts to slow the spread of the virus, for all group programs the scheduled one-week spring break will be extended to two weeks (March 16-27).
We are continually monitoring this situation and are in contact with the appropriate agencies to stay on top of the issue. If there are any further postponements or cancellations, we will advise you as soon as these decisions are made. Thank you for your understanding and continued support as we do our part to #flattenthecurve.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2020
CONTACT: Glen Hoos, Director of Communications 604-444-3773 | firstname.lastname@example.org | http://DSRF.org
BURNABY, BC – Burnaby’s Down Syndrome Resource Foundation Celebrates 25 Years of Caring for the Down Syndrome Community
For the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, 2020 is an occasion a quarter century in the making.
On March 13, 1995 DSRF’s doors officially opened. Actually, it was just one door, swinging from a tiny trailer on the grounds of Vancouver’s Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children.
DSRF (known then as the Down Syndrome Research Foundation) was the vision of Josephine Mills, a strong advocate and passionate supporter of children with Down syndrome and their families. Josephine devoted more than 30 years to improving the quality of medical care, education, and opportunities in the community for people with Down syndrome and their families, and was instrumental in founding three major organizations that address the needs of people with Down syndrome: Down Syndrome International, the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, and DSRF.
In 2002, Jo swung open another set of doors – these ones leading into DSRF’s brand new centre on Sperling Avenue in Burnaby. Designed first and foremost as a research facility, which at the time was the organization’s primary focus, DSRF quickly became home to hundreds of families in the Lower Mainland Down syndrome community.
Over the past 25 years, the organization has evolved away from research and towards service delivery, as it became clear that this is where DSRF could make the greatest impact for its families. Today, the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation is Canada’s leading provider of educational programs and therapy services to people with Down syndrome across the lifespan, serving over 400 students annually.
“The Down Syndrome Resource Foundation has been around long enough now that we've had the privilege of seeing some of our students grow up from early childhood well into adulthood,” says CEO Wayne Leslie. “We have adults with Down syndrome who come back to DSRF and say, ‘I started here. I have a job, I’m independent, I have an amazing life and I reached my full potential, and I did it with the help of DSRF.’ That’s an incredible legacy, and we aim to continue it for many years to come.”
As the organization considered the best way to mark its silver anniversary, it came to realize the best way to remember and honour the past is to build upon it. To this end, expect a major announcement later this year – one that will set the stage for DSRF to grow its impact for another 25 years and beyond.
For more information on the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, visit DSRF.org or follow @DSRFCanada and #DSRF25 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.