2018 is an exciting year for us at the John McGivney Children’s Centre (JMCC). We are thrilled to be celebrating our 40th anniversary of providing specialized rehabilitation therapy to children and youth with special needs in Windsor and Essex County. Our anniversary year is the perfect opportunity to look back on the history of the Centre, reflect on where we are today and look forward to the opportunities for the future.
Our Centre has a rich history in Windsor and Essex County and we are so grateful for the continued support from our community, which has been instrumental throughout our 40 years of operation and even before. In 1939, therapy workshops at the Windsor Red Cross began offering therapy services for children and adults with disabilities. This quickly started a movement in Windsor-Essex to create a positive educational facility for children where they could also receive therapy services. The Red Cross School served children in our area for many years however in the mid-1960s it became evident that a larger, more accessible space was required. The Children's Rehabilitation Centre of Essex County opened in 1978 after years of dedication, persistence and hard work by local community members and parents of children with disabilities as well as the support of local businesses and the government of Ontario. In 2006, we changed our name to the John McGivney Children’s Centre in honour of one of our most dedicated advocates, John McGivney, a local businessman and Rotarian, who led the planning committee for the building of the Centre and dedicated himself to our cause for decades.
Over the years, as therapy methods and equipment have changed and developed, more support for children and families with disabilities became possible and the number of individuals using our Centre continued to grow. Following a successful capital campaign, which was spearheaded by McGivney and included immense support from the local community, the renovation of the existing building along with an extensive expansion, tripling the square footage of the Centre, was completed in 2010.
As we settled into our new building, we were always thinking of ways to maximize our property and to ensure the best use of the space, both indoors and outdoors. Last year, we had a very exciting year with enhancements and transformations inside and out! Thanks to multiple large donations and grants from our community, we opened a state-of-the-art accessible playground in our side yard which is enjoyed daily by JMCC clients and families and the community. This accessible playground is perfect for leisure, play and therapy for those of all ages and abilities. Additionally, thanks to the Smilezone Foundation and the Windsor Spitfires, we received a refresh of our most public indoor spaces adding colourful murals, bright and happy paint and waiting room activities. Ultimately, both of these projects contributed to creating a more child and family friendly space at JMCC.
As is evident, JMCC is dedicated to continuing to find new and innovative ways to improve our programs and services for our clients and families as well as advocating for and raising awareness about childhood disability in our community. In 2018, not only are we celebrating our 40th anniversary, but we are also thrilled to be in the first year of our new Strategic Plan. This new plan outlines our commitment to offering family-centred care and services, empowering our employees and finding new opportunities for them to learn and connect with colleagues, raising our profile in the community and continuing to look for partnerships and collaborations to offer new and specialty services to children and youth with special needs in Windsor and Essex County.