No oxygen for thirty minutes: these were the first moments of life for Shalom’s son, J.J. “The brain injury which caused his cerebral palsy happened as he came into the world,” says Shalom. But Shalom desired more for J.J.’s life than simply respite. “J.J. has unlimited potential,” he says. “We wanted him to get an education, to be challenged. That’s why we picked Kayla’s Children Centre (KCC). It doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
KCC’s incredible staff provide high-quality, cutting-edge educational, therapeutic, and recreational programs for young people with disabilities, as well as support for their families.
To these families and their children, Yaffi, KCC’s Executive Director & Head of School, has a message: “The Centre is going to be there for you, from the time the child is discharged from the hospital, right up to adulthood.”
You feel the energy of that commitment in the hallways, classrooms, and play areas of KCC. You’re surrounded by love and life—therapists working with kids in the clinic, staff dancing to music, and students in the sensory gym. KCC develops individualized educational and therapy plans for every child. They create the right care team to support that child’s needs and help them thrive—from social workers to speech pathologists, PSWs to physiotherapists, and more.
This team was critical for J.J. when he was home during the pandemic. For kids like J.J., an interruption of their program can be catastrophic. “If he’s out of therapy for a week, it will take a month to catch up,” says Shalom.
“Those months where we were completely closed, with no services happening in our building—those months were significantly challenging,” says Yaffi. “Knowing that UJA was launching an emergency fund to provide subsidies for families that lost income in the pandemic, that was a huge relief.” At a time when families faced unprecedented pressures, UJA funding ensured PSWs could support kids at home. UJA funds also support an after-school recreational program for anywhere between 50 and 75 KCC students. This extended childcare gives both parents an opportunity to work full-time, alleviating some of the financial stress on the household.
Shalom began this journey alongside J.J. not knowing what to do. Today, he found what he first started looking for those years ago—a place that unlocks his son’s potential.