Delta Agricultural Society donates $250,000 to Reach campaign

Delta Agricultural Society donates $250,000 toward construction of new special needs centre in Ladner

Delta's farming community has stepped up in a big way to support children and youth with special needs.

On Monday, the Delta Agricultural Society donated $250,000 to Reach Child and Youth Development Society's Building for Children Together capital campaign. The campaign goal is to raise $4 million to build a child development centre in Ladner to provide more accessible, community-based programs and services to children and youth with special needs .

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"We are thrilled, and very grateful for this generous donation from the Delta Agricultural Society," said Reach executive director Renie D'Aquila.

"This is more than the cultivation of land, but the cultivation of community," said D'Aquila. "This new building project will make such a big difference in the lives of vulnerable children and youth and it wouldn't happen without leaders like the Delta Agricultural Society demonstrating their support."

Peter Guichon of the Delta Agricultural Society said, "The Agricultural Society has donated to many worthwhile projects, and I can't think of one that's more worthwhile than this one. We are very proud to help kick off this campaign. Very proud."

The Delta Agricultural Society has had a long history in Delta and is active in giving to local projects and community groups. Past donation recipients have included Delta Hospital, McKee House, Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust, Delta Museum and Archives, and the Delta Hospice capital project.

There is a high need for disability-related services for children in Delta. Statistics indicate that 15 per cent of children have special needs, which translates to approximately 3,800 children in Delta alone.

Reach's current facility and location poses obstacles to providing services to those children.

"The current facility was built 46 years ago at a time when Ladner was more rural," explained Reach Foundation chair Irene Forcier. "Its purpose then was as a facility to train youth with disabilities how to operate farm equipment and gain skills needed to get work on a farm. Now, of course, Ladner has a town centre and families are looking for services that are close, easy to access, on public transit routes and adjacent to other community services they use. Families need a community-based centre in order to have their needs met quickly and effectively."

The new centre will be located at the site of the Kin House. It will have a designated area for Reach programs and services, including therapy and counseling rooms, specialized lending library, space for youth programs and an inclusive preschool with an outdoor accessible playground.

The building will also provide a meeting space for the Kinsmen Club of Ladner Tsawwassen and an expanded events room for Reach workshops, or for use by other community groups, municipal programs or local businesses.

The project is a partnership between the Corporation of Delta, Reach Child and Youth Development Society and the Ladner Tsawwassen Kinsmen Club.

The Corporation of Delta has provided the land, which is valued at in excess of $1 million. Reach, along with the Kinsmen Club, will raise the funds to build the centre.

Reach is welcoming donations from community and service groups, corporations, businesses, foundations and individuals. For more information, to meet with campaign representatives or to make a donation, call 604-946-6622 ext.372 or visit www.reachdevelopment.org/campaign.

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