A group of proactive parents is aiming to create happiness and success for Sooke children with special needs.
The Sooke Autism Support Society, whose board consists of Sherri Ostropolski, Grania Bridal, Denise Umbach and Judi Trudel, provides support for families who have children with special needs by hosting meetings, and offering guardians mentoring and access to information.
“I’ve raised a child with autism, and it was very hard not having any connections, resources, or anyone to turn to that was going through the same thing,” said Sherri Ostropolski, president of SASS.
“It’s a full-time job raising a special needs child, so if you know someone who is years ahead doing the same thing, they can be a fountain of knowledge.”
The group holds monthly meetings which often feature a guest speaker, followed by an open forum where people can share experiences, tips or stories. They also have a lending library with helpful books, games, videos, worksheets, and a website full of useful information guardians can visit.
The meetings can cover topics anywhere from the diagnosis process, to financial support, family development, dealing with stress, and summer camp options.
“Not all the meetings are serious either, once we just talked to one another and shared funny stories and experiences that we had been through,” said Ostropolski.
The next SASS meeting is set for Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at Edward Milne Community School. The meeting will welcome everyone back and identify future topics of interest, possible group events, plan initiatives for the community, as well as discuss the back-to-school transition.
“It’s important to note that everyone is welcome, and the initiatives are very Sooke focused. We look at what we can achieve right here in our own community, and many of the topics we discuss are meaningful and relevant to Sooke families with any type of special needs, not just autism,” said Ostropolski.
“Guardians raising special needs children often get very stressed and feel all alone, and we want to try and help alleviate that and offer them support.”
To find out more about SASS, please visit their website at www.sooke-sass.com.