Thanks to a $600,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation a new organization called the Northern Ontario Centre for Learning Differences will provide support for the parents and educators of students who face challenges with learning.
The grant will be spread out over three years to support the centre's expansion to Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins.
Mary-Liz Warwick, the centre's interim executive director, said she hopes to have resource facilitators in all three cities by April 2016.
“Often, when you're a parent with a child who has a learning disability you feel very alone,” Warwick said. “The parent support is one of our key programs.”
A report from Ontario's Ministry of Education said there are almost 8,000 students in English-language school boards in northeastern Ontario who have been identified with a learning disability.
To help more of those children and their families the Northern Ontario Centre for Learning Differences will expand on the resource facilitator program the Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury offers locally.
“All of us in the organization are committed and passionate,” said Ron Lessard, the association's executive director. “We really care about meeting with families and helping them succeed.”
The Northern Ontario Centre for Learning Differences will host a teleconference Wednesday evening with 30 families from across Northern Ontario, to help them navigate the different resources available to help parents and their children navigate learning supports.
Dr. Todd Cunningham, a psychologist from the University of Toronto, and specialist on learning difficulties, will facilitate Wednesday's teleconference.
The Northern Ontario Centre for Learning Differences head office will be housed at Huntington University, and it hopes to expand to satellite offices in North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie by April.
“Every student has the right to an education and the right to learn in a way that best suits their learning style,” said Kevin McCormick, president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University, and chair of the Northern Ontario Centre for Learning Differences' board.