History of the Child Development Centre
The CDC was first conceived in 1967 in response to the need for services to children, youth, adults with special needs and their families residing in the Central Interior of British Columbia. Anne Martin served as the first Executive Director and Ann Callander as President. Monica Williams became the first physiotherapist. It was family physician, Dr. Carolyn McGhee, who first identified the need for these services. They began with three children with special needs. The society was formally incorporated in 1968 as the Cerebral Palsy Association of Prince George.
|Dr. Carolyn McGhee|
The Society’s first facility was set up in a portable classroom building, loaned by School District #57, located at the corner of Winnipeg Street and Ninth Avenue. Initial funding was $11,000 from the B.C. Cerebral Palsy Association. By 1987, the Centre was assisting hundreds of children. These children benefitted from timely medical assessments, as well as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology services. The three to six year olds could also attend preschool and daycare services.
Under the leadership of the second President, Horst Sander, the Centre moved in 1973 to a larger building on Strathcona Avenue. Renovations to the lower level were completed by 1975 and by 1984, a new wing was added. Funds for this expansion were provided by the Shriners, CKPG television, the Kiwanis Club and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
With increased demand for services, better funding allowed for expanding the staff to include one occupational therapist and one speech therapist, a preschool teacher and a social worker. One indication of the level of caring in the Prince George community was the response to meeting the Centre’s transportation needs. Parents unable to transport their children for treatment were helped out by volunteer drivers. The roster of volunteers swelled quickly to more than 70 people. Currently, a bus service operated by the Carefree Society fills that need.
From the beginning, the approach has been holistic. The Centre seeks to support the families in addition to the needs of each child. Successes achieved attract more and more families seeking help. Admission is open, so children experiencing delays in physical, social, psychological or emotional development can be referred by medical practitioners, relatives or friends.
When the new wing was built in 1984, the expansion resulted in an 11,000 square foot building. From 2006 to 2007, a major $1.2 million dollar renovation boosted it up to 17,000 square feet with the completion of the lower level. Finishing the lower level was accomplished with support from the City of Prince George, the Variety Fund, Rotary and the Province of British Columbia.
A happy event helped mark the CDC’s 40th anniversary in the fall of 2007 when an attractive new outdoor playground was opened and named for the founding Executive Director, Anne Martin, to honour her dedication and long years of service.
From our humble beginnings, serving a handful of children in the initial year, the Child Development Centre now annually assist over 1000 children and their families. Outreach services are provided to children in Mackenzie, McBride and Valemount. Reflecting its expanding mandate, the society changed its official name to the Child Development Centre of Prince George and District Association in 2009.
The CDC is a registered charity which continues to be jointly funded by the Provincial Government and community partners.
The CDC today