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New playground at CHEO will aid learning for children with autism spectrum disorder
OTTAWA (ONTARIO), September 15, 2013—The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the CHEO Foundation today proudly unveiled a new play structure at the Autism Program site at the Industrial Avenue Centre.
The vision for a new play structure came about when five-year old Liam McManus’ parents saw how much he enjoyed his time outdoors and suggested that his friends might also benefit from a play park. Liam has been diagnosed with autism and benefits from Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) treatment.
“And, the idea was born,” said Paul McManus, Liam’s father. “We’ve seen first-hand the life lessons that Liam has been able to learn from the playground. When you are living with autism, every tool that can help your child develop their skills is something to embrace.”
Paul approached the CHEO Foundation and offered his family’s support for a new play structure to be built at the Industrial Avenue Autism site. Before long, the drive to build a structure had grown. Within six months, more than $40,000 was raised. Late this summer, the play structure was installed and has been heavily used ever since.
“The playground is such a welcome addition to the program,” said Dr. Lise Bisnaire, CHEO’s Autism Program Director. “Children learn such important lessons on the structure – taking turns, asking playmates questions and even practical skills like hopping and climbing – that they can use in day-to-day life. Through play, we can support the development and build the confidence of children who might not learn through traditional methods.”
In honor of the opening, a bright yellow ribbon was cut by Liam, his family and donors from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They were joined by CHEO CEO, Alex Munter, Director of Autism, Dr. Lise Bisnaire, and the staff and families of those who support the Autism Program.
Children who are in the IBI program are learning the skills and tools that will eventually allow them to join their classmates in school. The program is intensive because it involves approximately 25 hours a week with the child and a therapist working one-on-one to develop a broad range of communication, socialization, self-help and play skills.
CHEO’s Autism Program, including the IBI, Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and the School Program, supports more than 920 children and families who have been diagnosed with Autism. The Autism Program provides parenting classes, group learning and one-to-one treatment plans to help children reach their fullest potential.
“It is really humbling when a family comes forward and says their child has benefitted from your program and wants to give back so the next child will also benefit,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO. “Through their generous donation, we are able to take another step towards creating an exceptional patient experience – our long-term goal for every family we work with and key in helping kids be their healthiest”.”
CHEO is a pediatric health and research centre providing outstanding family-centred patient care, pioneering breakthrough research, and training the health care professionals of tomorrow.
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For further information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist
613-737-7600 x 3536
Cell: 613-769-5553
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