COVID-19 crisis impacting the Montreal school, association for people with special needs – Montreal

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Sabrina Viviani loves to play with her three year old daughter, Milana.

But the mother is disappointed that part of Milana’s routine has been interrupted by the coronavirus.

The pandemic has closed the Pat Roberts Center since mid-March – a preschool for children with special needs.

“It was his house, it was his friends, his teacher. And her absence charged her emotionally, ”Viviani told Global News. Milana suffers from a genetic condition causing poor muscle tone.

Normally, the school accommodated up to 20 children per day for half a day. But a lack of funding and a COVID-19 alert level of red for Montreal have prevented operators from reopening the school.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Lyne Charlebois, executive director of the West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (WIAIH), told Global News.

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The association has owned and operated the Pat Roberts Center for 15 years at its current location on Boulevard Gouin Ouest in Pierrefonds.

READ MORE: Dorval Preschool Co-op set to close due to pandemic

Much of the association’s revenue has dried up this year as it has been unable to host fundraising events, like a golf tournament and talent show, which normally bring in dozens of dollars. thousands of dollars.

Charlebois says efforts are being made to reopen the school at a future date but in limited capacity.

“We are working on a plan. We had a plan to go there shortly. Unfortunately, with the intervention of the red zone, we had to rethink things to make sure we cover all of our bases, ”she said.

WIAIH serves approximately 450 people with special needs. Many of them are adults and rely on the service for after-school programs and weekend activities. But now many of these events have been canceled or reduced.

“I call it our church, our synagogue, our mosque, our place where we can come for advice,” Veronica told Global News. Justin’s mother, 19, who suffers from encephalitis causing speech impairment, did not want to reveal his last name.

She has been bringing Justin to WIAHI for 16 years and says the disruption of services has been difficult.

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“I feel this tension. I feel stressed, ”she said.

Many people are just hoping that the non-profit organization, which does not receive any direct government subsidy, can take over kindergarten in the near future and offer more activities through the main center of WIAIH so that people like Justin and Milana can benefit from it.

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