In the Beginning
Starbright Children’s Development Centre Association, formerly known as The Central Okanagan Child Development Association (COCDA) and the Okanagan Neurological Association before that, was founded in 1966. In the early 1960’s, a group of parents from Kelowna, Penticton, and Summerland area met together to discuss their concerns over the existing services for their children with special needs. They shared common issues over the financial, physical and emotional burdens that evolved because of the need to travel to Vancouver to receive services for their children. Although local health units did what they could to provide therapeutic and educational help, systems were nevertheless limited and costly.
As a result of these initial meetings, the founding group of parents formed a local chapter of the Cerebral Palsy Association in 1966. Within this same year, because of the much wider demands of other special needs children in the community at large, the Okanagan Neurological Association was formed, absorbing the Cerebral Palsy Chapter in the process. The need for such an organization was obvious. Before the year of 1966 ended, more children from the surrounding communities of Kamloops, Canoe, Salmon Arm, Vernon, and Oliver were included, thus reinforcing the very real needs for the Okanagan Neurological Association (ONA).
The ONA was given a small donated house which allowed the group to start its first pre-school program. The program’s success was immediate, and within three years over one hundred and forty clients were being served. It became obvious that a much larger facility would be needed to meet the demands of the community. With this in mind, the ONA moved into the former private school for girls, Chesterfield Hall, in the year 1973. This new home was located on Collette Road. For the Okanagan Neurological Association, this was a much needed breakthrough in the provision of services for families with special needs children.
In 1986, nearly thirteen years later, the funds donated by the Variety Club of British Columbia, the Province of British Columbia, several service clubs, and private donors made it possible for the establishment of a brand new 1.4 million dollar multi-dimensional facility. The construction of this new facility in 1987, made the provision of service to the ever-expanding needs of the community much more feasible. The name of the center was changed to the Variety Child Development Center in appreciation of all that was done to create such a facility.
Where We Are Now
In 1992 the Variety Child Development Center changed its name to the Central Okanagan Child Development Association and on August 7 2015 to Starbright Children’s Development Centre Association. Starbright is located at 1546 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna, B.C., and provides multi-disciplinary services to a variety of families with children aged 0 – 6 throughout the Central Okanagan. Some areas of the services provided are: Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Infant Development, Early Intensive Behaviour Program for Children with Autism, Supported Child Development, Family Counseling and the Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program. In the year 2005-2006 alone, we provided services to five hundred and ninety families. Today, referrals average close to 1,000 per year.
Where We Are Going
Now, under our new Starbright banner, given the continuing increase of clients, and our expanded number of therapists and therapies, in order to continue to meet the growing needs of our expanding community, Starbright must expand or rebuild our current centre.
It has been forty years since our agency became a reality, and fundraising is now underway to accommodate our expansion and next evolution of Starbright and the role it serves in our community. The initial estimate of cost brings the expansion total close to 10 million dollars. Plans are to incorporate more therapy rooms and offices for new and current staff, with the intent of decreasing the ever-expanding wait lists. The inclusion of an audio-visual conference room to accommodate staff training, parent training, and workshops is a much needed addition.
Our Community – The Foundation of Who We Are
Through its family-centered approach, Starbright remains dedicated to the priorities and choices of families. With generous assistance from the community, the province, and many sponsors, Starbright continues to support families in a quality and timely manner. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions provided by many organizations. Without this, we could not continue to expand the wealth of services provided.
Providing early intervention services through a family-centered approach, The Starbright Children’s Development Centre supports families in promoting the optimum development of children with challenges.
Education, Education and More Education
Some of the most valuable assets of the center are the skills and technologies passed on to families, community groups, school partners, caregivers, therapists, and others. As part of our commitment to the families of our community, one of the necessary inclusions of this expansion is a Presentation, Education and Technology Center. This instructional environment will allow up-to-date technology to be presented, as well as providing the training for mentorship programs, community partner involvement, parent training, and many other opportunities. From the increase in persons served, waiting lists, and increase in staff, this is a much needed opportunity with unlimited potential. Let the workshops begin!
Go For the Gold
Fundraising is the main initiative for the upcoming months. Everything we strive for now will pay back tenfold in the people we connect with through the amazing opportunities at Starbright. Let your heart do the talking – fundraising will come easy!
How We Are Funded
The Central Okanagan Child Development Association is a charitable non-profit organization.
At present, Starbright depends heavily upon financial support from the Province of British Columbia, local community service clubs and organizations, as well as corporate and private donations. Tax deductible receipts are issued for all donations.
Fundraising and donations provide specialized equipment and toys, and assist with the general operation of the centre.
We thank the following organizations for the continued support.