Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities Financial Grant
Links to Learning Resource Centre applied to the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities for an expansion program grant that would allow us to increase our resources in books, toys, games, videos and kits. In so doing, we felt that updating and expanding our resources would encourage membership from newcomers, benefit existing patrons and, shorten the wait period on high demand items.
Modifications to plan
In making purchases for the resource centre there were occasions when we had to diverge from our original list in order to successfully make the best use of the budgeted money for particular categories. Videos challenged us greatly as prices cited in our application were at times not what they were going to be if we actually purchased from some companies as they brought their product in from the US . The price quotes from one company when converted went from $99.00. to at times as high as $300.00, which was not clear at all in their advertising. Switching companies and revamping our video list helped us to purchase an excellent grouping of videos at better than anticipated price.
Similar modification to the suggested book list were made when we were informed that a local book seller was going out of business. Her stock in children's health and disability issues differed from the titles we were hoping to purchase, but not topically hence at 50% off we scoured every section of this booksellers store. The result was excellent books on disorder topics we wanted, no shipping fee and a savings of $300.00 from the original list.
Adjustments to the toy and game list were minimal and for many of the above sited reasons, except in some cases where the product was no longer available or upon viewing it was determined to be less than suitable for our clients.
Meeting the need
- Impact of new books
Parents with newly identified children benefited most from our expansion of subject range and increase in volumes available. Many parents were able to inquire about books recommended to them and if we did not have the book in stock were able to order it through our local bookseller, Greenleys. Most importantly we were able to order an excellent selection of books across all disorder domains to expand our holding or in some cases begin a subject we had not yet dealt with such as: Juvenile Diabetes, Schizophrenia, Tourette Syndrome, Dyspraxia, Non Verbal Learning disabilities and Bipolar Disorders in Childhood. Dyslexia, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Deafness, Social Skills and Sibling issues, were some of the book topics we were able to expand on when funding was applied in theses areas.
The increase in clientele usage was dramatic. Families returning books from prior visits were surprised and encouraged to find current much sought after material available on their particular issue. Families with a newly diagnosed child were visibly encouraged and in some cases where we had intended to bring material in on their specific disorder we were very happy to advise them it was on order. In the past we would have had to say we didn't cover that topic yet and recommend a title we had ourselves hoped to purchase someday. This happened in the case of a child newly diagnosed as hearing impaired one with a non verbal learning disability and another family inquiring about dyspraxia.
As the orders came in from the bookstore the resource centre itself began to look more well rounded and more like a library of sorts. All staff involved in the sorting, data entry, stamping and labelling of the new material were excited at the valuable material we were now able to offer our patrons which in turn boosted volunteer appreciation of the grant.
- Impact of new videos
It meant a great deal to us to have money to apply towards videos. As mentioned earlier under modifications to plan, we had some surprises when it actually came time to order from the list we had compiled. The market distinguishes the value of a video by home use or multiple use and in some cases requires a site license making the price almost unattainable. As well we were soon to discover that even if a Canadian company was the supplier we would still wind up paying exorbitant US exchange and boarder fees. We were able to rectify some of these issues with some very impressive help from Brian at McIntyre Media, who upon reviewing our video list helped us to cull it to a 22 volume set that more than adequately covered the topics in the single titles we had been considering.
Mood Disorders of Ontario also had an exorbitant fee for delivery which they all but waved when we asked them to. This group of videos on Bipolar Disorders medication and Depression proved very useful to a local psychiatrist as well as a number of parents.
The rate at which videos have been going out of the resource centre jumped by 73% with 87% of families accessing videos for the first time for instructional use. Many families were eager to share a video with their spouse who was reluctant to read printed material or to ease them in to understanding a diagnosis that they had not yet come to terms with.
Of all the resource purchases made because of funding, I would say that purchasing the type and amount of videos we now have had the most noticeable impact on families using the centre.
- College Night School Courses
Since bringing in videos on Learning disabilities, an increase in borrowing from those interested in learning about this population has been noted. In particular purchasing the F.A.T. City Series proved beneficial to night school students taking courses on Learning Disabilities, as well we had one teacher use the series to complete a part of her Special Ed over the summer. She was thrilled to find it locally as she had called around and discovered that it would have had to have been shipped to her had we not had it in stock.
- School use of videos
Many families reported that being able to lend a video to a teacher was a comfortable way to educate the teacher regarding their child's disorder and appreciated by the teacher or EA as a quick but efficient resource. To date three schools have made use of videos such as Educating Inattentive Children and Behavioral Problems In the Classroom.
- Impact of new toys/games
Links was able to purchase toys and games that were relevant to kits we had designed or that stood alone as a family game item. One young fellow was unduly impressed that he was the first to play one of the newly acquired games and reminds us on each visit that he was the first to take that particular game out. Games have been helping families to play naturally with their child while at the same time building skills that were either weak or emerging. Organizations working with children in the IBI programs for Autism have been thrilled with the toys as they have been a great supplement to their work. This networking with the Autism program became a new membership and was a direct result of having developed kits that targeted skills. One worker was actually in the process of trying to develop games to take to the therapists working in intensive autism home programs and was very excited to see that we had already devised a method that would work. She was very interested in the shipment we had on order with Dragonfly Toys and has been a regular visitor to the centre.
We soon saw that the toys and games were having a positive effect on siblings attending the centre with a parent who may well be preoccupied with the needs of the child with the disorder. We took the initiative and suggested that parents add the non affected child to the membership so that they too could enjoy coming to the centre. In two cases this had a visibly profound effect on the child in the form of gratitude and surprise. We now have siblings attending the centre with patience and some actually make a bee line to choose their next kit, game or book.
Unquestionably our membership has jumped and we attribute this increase to the purchasing of updated and hard to come by resources. On the whole, Belleville parents and some organizations dealing with clients and families raising children with disabilities have less and less money to apply to resources, this reason alone increased our membership as we had hoped. Secondly many parents were impressed with the resources and referred their friends. An in school counselor brought her school on board as a member because she was unduly impressed with the significant amount and diversity in the resources we now have. As well she saw a benefit for herself as a parent and borrows for her child as well as for use in her school position. Other new members were attained through newspaper and newsletter articles that promoted the increase in resources due to RMCC funding.
Making a Difference in the lives of children in our community
Statistics were kept for the year and compared to other years on client rates of library activity, overall satisfaction of needs met and frequency of library use. Dramatic increase were noted on paper but in the end the most revealing signs of meeting our goals were clearest during this past Christmas season. Our goal of changing lives by allowing families to have unrestricted access to material that would help their child reach his/her best potential was evident in Christmas greetings sent by several families. Statistics had shown us that usage was up, membership was up, but nothing tells it more than the heartfelt thanks expressed in cards sent to us by two families in particular.
The one family consists of a single parent, raising a son with ADHD/AUTISM, who is presently attending school for one hour a day. Her needs were and still are overwhelmingly large, however in several areas the difference resources made in her life and the life of her son were significant and could not have been accomplished nearly as well with what we had prior to the funding. Her son is highly inattentive but very visual and was able to learn from a series of 8 videos we purchased entitled, Come Read With Me. Since he is not fully integrated into the school setting his Mother was very pleased to find that this video instruction enhanced his time at home by captivating his attention and exposing him to all of the early reading strategies he needs to begin reading.
Secondly she found it difficult to adjust to his diagnosis, his frequent medication changes and was calmed by the reading material we were able to lend her. She is very generous in expressing her appreciation of being able to educate herself on her sons many needs.
Equally impressed was a very overwhelmed family that came to us in October 2003, after discovering that their two year old sons other medical conditions had resulted in permanent and continual hearing loss. This family, although involved with other agencies were floundering in grief, lack of knowledge of the system and the cumbersome task of making lifelong decisions for their son in a time when they themselves felt overwhelmed and undereducated. We had a small amount of material on hand pertaining to sign language and were waiting for other material to come in. When the video series on parenting a deaf child and the book on the culture of deafness written in a current publication by a former student of Sir James Whitney School of the Deaf, here in Belleville, came in they proved instrumental in assisting this young family to make some very heart wrenching decisions regarding their sons needs in the quickly closing window of time before his speech and hearing were further compromised. This family also had an older child who was known to become impatient with the discussions surrounding her brothers' needs; however she was efficiently brought on board when she began borrowing kits. Her Mother had been considering homeschooling and when she discovered we also carried this type of material she was further excited and said so in her letter to us. She indicated that she been lost in the whole process of meeting both her children's needs and since coming into the office was now feeling more certain both about her sons' needs and that of his sibling and the direction she wanted to now take for their lives.
These two families best mirror the over all feelings of gratitude that families have displayed when discovering the centre's potential to help them educate themselves and move in life changing directions based on a thorough understanding of their child's diagnosis.
Thank-you to Geoff Cudmore and Rotary Club of Quinte Sunrise for financial sponsorship of Reading Rocks!
Thank-you to the Belleville community who generously donate in the campaigns run by Doug McGraw
Thank-you to the Frederick Hennessey Foundation for its ongoing financial help and support
To Help Us In This Direction:
When you visit our office do not ignore the Penny Jar . We actually rely on this and claim it in our income taxes. Rule of thumb: do not ignore the penny jar.
Our Penny Donation Jar
We must thank:
Quinte Bible Chapel Board of Directors for allowing us the space
Fred Hennessey Foundation without their support we would have never opened our doors
Local McDonald's owner Bob Doyle for support from McHappy Day dollars directed at funding the J.E.T. program
Joe Gillis, owner of local Subway Stores, for donation of vending machines to put in local businesses to offset cost of operating LLRC
Ontario Federation of Retired Teachers for adopting us Christmas of 2003. It netted the centre many wonderful toys, games, books and videos
Doug McGraw and door to door canvassing crew for canvassing on our behalf and contributing many dollars to the centre's funding
Gail Spry, (retired June 2004) teacher at Queen Victoria Public School who requested her retirement gift be donations to Links to Learning
Dr. Gordon Gosse, Dev.Ped., who sends many of his patients to us for help and considers us a part of his network
Those who donate to Melanie 's Penny Drive, especially Bev Nethercott who never misses an opportunity to give
Rainbow Club girls for their donation
Kiwanis Club of Sagonaska
Kiwanis Club of Bancroft
All of our wonderful Volunteers who donate so much of their time, talent and ideas to the making of kits, storing of items and the paperwork
To Help Caregivers of Children with Special Needs
Some families have medically fragile kids and all their money is tied up in more important things. Donate on behalf of those who cannot pay.