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Canucks Autism Network to host holiday skate event

The B.C. interior branch of the Canucks Autism Network is hoping to connect families raising children on the spectrum with an upcoming event.

The free family skate Dec. 18 at the Kelowna Capital News Centre is open to all families living with autism.

As Larson Boss watched his 6-year-old daughter River make her first glides on the ice in skates thanks to the Canucks Autism Network, he is proud.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Boss. “The volunteers and everybody that’s here to help out and go out of their way to help out my daughter and other kids, it gives them an opportunity to do something that maybe they wouldn’t want to do or would be tough for them to do in a normal circumstance in an environment that feels safe for them.”

In 2008, Vancouver’s Paolo and Clara Aquilini started the program after raising a child with autism.

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The Network now connects B.C. children on the spectrum with five different recreational opportunities for a registration fee of $25/year.

“One in 68 children are diagnosed with autism every year, so in British Columbia alone, there’s 11,000 kids living with autism,” said Canucks Autism Network spokesperson Kayla Ungaro. “It’s kind of why we are who we are and why we’re providing the programs that we are providing.”

Those statistics are reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For the Boss family, every support they can access makes life easier.

“I want everybody to know what’s available, what’s out there, the opportunities that are there, the supports that are there and letting people know that it’s not just for the parents. We’re going to enjoy it for sure but the biggest thing will be for [River]. It gives her an opportunity to learn things that she wouldn’t otherwise be able to do it again most importantly in an environment where she’s comfortable.”

Families do not need to be members to join the family skate Dec. 18.

Participants only need to RSVP at www.canucksautism.ca/interior.