Surprise Adopt-a-School Donation Helps Autistic Students at Cunningham

When Joanne Dale, Principal at Cunnigham Elementary School, heard that her application to the Vancouver Sun Adopt-A-School had been accepted, she had no idea the amount of generosity that was about to befall her school. 

In the fall, Dale submitted an application to the program in the hopes of raising money to purchase much needed learning materials for the school's special needs community.

The school staff were thrilled to learn that the Vancouver Rotary Club was able to donate some money towards their needs, via the Adopt-a-School Program.

In December, at a presentation ceremony at the school, Cunningham Elementary learned they were the happy recipients of $21,000 from the Vancouver Rotary Club.

telus cunninghamBut moments after the oversized cheque was presented, Jill Schnarr with Telus stepped forward and wrote a surprise cheque for an additional $30,000, making up the difference and allowing the school to reach its goal.  

Dale was blown away by the donations.  

"I was speechless when presented with the $21,000 cheque from the Rotary Club of Vancouver and then I almost fell over when Telus wrote a $30,000 cheque in front of me," says Dale. "I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Mr. Gerry Bellett of the Vancouver Sun Adopt-a-School program, Rotary Club, Telus, and our many other generous donors over the past few years, for caring about the future of our children. Their generous donations will make a life-changing difference for our students as we make sure they get the resources that they need in order to succeed."

Cunningham is one of two schools in the district that offers the VSB Autism Resource Program. Currently, there are 17 autistic children, 18 designated special needs students, and as many as 30 other children with serious learning disabilities all attending the school.

"There was no way the PAC would ever be able to raise the $50,000 needed to buy the iPads, interactive projectors, MacBooks and the expensive iPad apps necessary for teaching the special needs and autistic children," says Bentley Jung, Cunningham PAC President.

The use of iPads and computer programs is an effective supplementary resource in the classroom and is well supported in Autism education.

"For our children with autism, it provides them with a way to communicate with some of the speech apps and software currently available. It is not a substitute for direct teaching; instead, it is another tool in the teacher's toolbox, albeit a powerful one," says Dale.

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