Pacific Autism Family Network to Open Prince George Office
Prince George, B.C. – Dignitaries cut the ribbon on a new office which will provide autism programming and support services to people of all ages in Prince George this morning.
The Pacific Autism Family Network’s new state-of-the-art 3,000 square foot office is located on Victoria Street in the Gateway.
The office – coined a spoke of PAFN’s first location in Richmond – is part of the organization’s mandate of ensuring every family has necessary access to autism resources.
“Our goal has always been to reach as many families as possible across the province that are affected by autism and related disorders,” says Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, co-founder, PAFN. “Opening this first spoke location in Prince George is just the beginning of our continued strategy to bring services and resources province-wide and eventually, country-wide.”
She adds the office will not only assist those with autism through the patient’s lifespan but those with any challenge.
“So, we’ll be dealing with decreasing the diagnosis times to nil. We’ll be helping school age children and adults with life skills training as well.”
Jordan Oliver, whose nine-year-old son Joel has autism, calls the office “a one-stop shop” to help those in need. She notes it’s a big change from the time Joel was diagnosed at the age of two.
“We had nothing. We had to leave the city to find a diagnoses in a timely manner because he had no speech, no social skills. So we left to find a diagnoses and came back here to create a home-based program.”
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond called the cause “a labour of love” of hers.
“I couldn’t be happier that we’re going to be the first spoke in a hub and spoke model. It’s the first time in North America that we’re going to have this kind of service in a secondary community.”
So where did the funding come from?
“It’s our charity and in 2007 we received a one-time special grant from the provincial government with a commitment from our charity to raise $7 million and our charity has raised $12 million to date,” says Lisogar-Cocchia, who notes their success should allow them to open eight offices across the province.
The Prince George location is scheduled to open this summer.