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Digby workshop helps children with development

Alyssa Hurlburt (right) is seen with her three-year-old daughter Abbigail Burnie during the Nov. 17 screening workshop at the Digby Family Centre. Also shown is physiotherapist Wendy Waterman who helped with the screening process. JAMES MALLORY
Alyssa Hurlburt (right) is seen with her three-year-old daughter Abbigail Burnie during the Nov. 17 screening workshop at the Digby Family Centre. Also shown is physiotherapist Wendy Waterman who helped with the screening process. JAMES MALLORY

Family Centre brings in professionals to assist with early childhood screening

DIGBY,N.S. - A special workshop was held at the Digby Family Centre on Nov. 17 to help children in their early stages of life.

The activity focused on screening three-year-olds to identify their development.

“It’s to see some things that could be helped along,” said Debbie Smith, site coordinator at the centre.  “Otherwise, the only screening that would happen is a few months before going into school and by then it’s too late.”

Smith said the centre helps parents and children from prenatal up to post-secondary education. She said services benefit families in urban and rural areas and that transportation to the centre is provided to those who need it.

Smith said the Nov. 17 exercise was meant to provide families with a link to resources they may not have access to.

“In general, it’s to have an opportunity to see a child psychologist, a physiotherapist…hearing and speech – it’s all in one place…It’s an opportunity to open the community up to people who might not know those things.”

Representatives in the fields of eye care, recreation, schooling and the public library were also on hand.

“What we want to do along with the screening is open up the opportunities for people by introducing them to some of the resources,” said Smith.

Smith also noted that the screening event included plenty of toys, colouring books and other activities to help stimulate the children in between screenings.

“We always have lots of fun things,” said Smith.

Wendy Waterman is a physiotherapist who assesses gross motor skills. Waterman said she looks for a child’s development in walking, running and jumping.

“There are certain milestones being between two and four-years-old so we sort of look at that just to make sure they’re progressing towards those milestones and doing okay,” she said.

Waterman has participated in the centre’s screening event several times since 2009. She said it’s an important initiative for the community.

“It’s great to see the kids just to make sure we can pick up on anything because the earlier you can pick up onto an issue or biomechanical problem or anything like that, the better it is. That way, we can guide them and if they have to have any referrals going towards the IWK or even just the local physio or O.T. (occupational therapist) at the local hospital.”

Felicia Ogilvie of Little River brought her four-year-old son Denver to the Nov. 17 screening. She said brought Denver to the screening because she noticed he had some speech delays.

“I was told through a worker here about this program so I registered him and we actually took part in everything they offered today – not just the hearing and speech,” she said.

Ogilvie said the results of the activity were promising to help Denver in his development.

“It actually was quite beneficial for him,” she said. “I learned a lot about different things and things I could do to help him progress. I learned that it wasn’t a hearing problem but just a speech problem. So it’s taking the time and pronouncing things and getting him to slow down when he’s talking.”

Ogilvie said because of the screening, she is now able to look to help her son with additional resources. She concluded that the Nov. 17 workshop is something she recommends to any parent.

“I was kind of unsure about it myself, just because I’m not a very social person and I actually found it very beneficial with all the different programs that they have and all the different people we went to…If there’s any concerns, they seem to cover everything here.”

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