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Small additions make large impact for kids at Penticton development centre

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Small additions make large impact for kids at Penticton development centre – Oct 20, 2016

A cornerstone charity in the south Okanagan is showcasing the newest additions to its fleet of therapeutic equipment as it gears up for its annual fundraising telethon.

READ MORE: Share a Smile telethon raises $52,000 for Okanagan children

The latest additions to the South Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society’s (OSNS) building in Penticton are a staircase and slide.

They offer simple exercises that have made all of the difference for children like 2-year-old Annabelle Watt, who was born with a visual impairment.

“Her left eye is pretty much blind and her right eye is almost perfect,” Annabelle’s mother, Kate Watt told Global News.

Kate said Annabelle has issues with depth perception.

Her physiotherapist, Dan Colbeck, said the slide and the stairs, which have two separate railing options for kids, are teaching tools in disguise.

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“We see big improvements in their leg strength which is helpful for anything from riding a tricycle to kicking a ball,” Colbeck said.

Another child benefitting from OSNS’s new additions is 5-year-old Thomas, who has autism.

“Three years ago, he had cochlear implant surgery and because that’s in your ear where your balance is, he lost all balance,” Thomas’s mother, Mare McHale said.

“He had to learn how to walk, run, ride a bike and go up and down stairs and it’s still an issue for him.”

OSNS has been serving south Okanagan families who have children with developmental delays, for nearly four decades.

READ MORE: OSNS wants you to Share A Smile

The therapeutic programs it offers are free thanks to government funding and donations, which is why it will be turning to the community for help at the 37th annual share-a-smile telethon.

“It’s just a really fun day and it’s a day for people to call in and help us out with projects like this and we love that,” said OSNS exeuctive director Manisha Willms.

A fun day of fundraising to ensure the society can continue to help kids like Annabelle and Thomas.

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“When we first brought Thomas here, he wouldn’t even look you in the eye. He wouldn’t look at my husband and I in the eye. He was very much in his own world and now he’s engaging and he’ll play with others,” McHale said.

The telethon runs from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on  November 20th.