Under sunny skies the sod was officially turned Tuesday for the Child Development Centre’s new autism centre in Williams Lake.
Original CDC founder Aileen Hewett, who will turn 96 this month, was there wearing a pink hard hat, holding the golden shovel.
Spruce Lee Construction and M. H. Excavating have already begun breaking ground.
Alongside CDC staff, Sprucelee Construction Ltd. designed the facility and will be constructing it.
“We have $96,000 from the John Gordon Autism Foundation to go toward the project,” CDC executive director Nancy Gale said. “We are fundraising and applying for grants because for the centre and some other expansions of the CDC we will need an additional $200,000.”
Originally it was hoped Thompson Rivers University’s residential construction program would be involved with the project, however, a class isn’t running at the campus right now so that partnership wasn’t realized.
Besides, Gale said there’s a limited time to see the centre constructed so they are moving ahead.
Hewett praised the CDC, saying it’s come a long way in its 40 years.
“It’s amazing what Nancy and her board have done,” she said.
Mayor Kerry Cook agreed, suggesting the new autism centre will be a great addition to the community.
“It speaks to the leadership of Nancy, the staff and the board for making this happen.”
The new centre will resemble a 1,200-square-foot house.
It will have a full kitchen with room for cooking classes and a sitting room off to the side.
The bathroom will have a bath tub and two sizes of toilets. There will be laundry facilities so children can learn life skills.
The centre will have a quiet room that will be very child specific to meet the needs of autistic children.
Staff had asked the children who presently access autism support services how the quiet room should be designed.
“We want to ensure it’s a very usable space for other children as well, but focused on autism,” Gale said.
The John Gordon Autism Foundation is also very keen for the centre to offer pre-vocational and vocational skill training to help teenagers obtain that first job and be part of society and the greater community, Gale said.