Weekend respite cherished by parents & children

Weekend respite group photo

Is it the weekend yet? 

Going to the Clay Café, swimming in the local wellness centre, bowling, making healthy meals together or tobogganing in the backyard—the new weekend respite program for children and youth with varying abilities does it all.

The Weekend Respite Program was developed by Highland Community Residential Services, an organization that provide lifetime opportunities for individuals to live independently to the fullest extent of their ability within their community in New Glasgow.   It's designed to help make it possible for families to have their child attend a weekend respite program, and to promote healthy childhood development.

For five hours every second week, parents can drop their child off at Saturday Respite free of charge. During this time, the children have the opportunity to be physically active, participate in recreation activities and most importantly, engage in sustainable friendships.

“For most parents, dropping your child off for an afternoon with friends is a very common occurrence. For some it’s a foreign concept. It’s not that we don’t want it for our children, but the opportunity just wasn’t there,” said Shelley Sutherland, parent of respite attendee. “Highland Community Residential Services’ Weekend Respite Program has provided an answer to our prayers.”

The program is offered to children 19 years and younger registered with Northern Region Respite Services. The children are separated by age group, and from there, respite workers are able to plan specific activities to fit each group. 

As a result of Weekend Respite, children are building character, self-esteem and a sense of belonging. Not only is the program beneficial for the children, but parents are able to drop their children off knowing that they are in good hands.

“For a parent to wave goodbye to their child without a heart and head full of worry is more precious than gold. I couldn’t be more grateful,” expressed Sutherland.

Amanda Smith Robinson, Respite Co-ordinator at Northern Region Respite Services, claims the program has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from parents, children and staff. “I run into parents who tell me how much they appreciate the program and that they now have time to spend with their partner/spouse, friends and other children and have peace of mind knowing their child is in the hands of professionals and they’re doing fun, healthy and recreational activities,” said Robinson.

“When I see children outside of the program, they get so excited and ask me when the next time to come to Saturday respite is.”

In recognition of their exceptional work, the Highland Community Residential Services’ Weekend Respite Project was awarded the 7th Annual Ed Bowden Community Wellness Award in New Glasgow this past February. 

The award was created by Pictou West and Central/East Pictou Community Health Boards (CHB) in consultation with family members in memory of Ed Bowden, who devoted his career to improving the health of Pictou County citizens and was the first chair of the Central / East Pictou CHB in 1996.

The award recognizes a community group supported by a CHB wellness fund grant* that reflects Bowden’s strong community spirit, the partnerships he built in the community, his passion for leading a healthy lifestyle, his innovative nature, his volunteer contributions and his legacy as a role model for Nova Scotians.

To learn more about Weekend Respite and Northern Region Respite Services, please contact Amanda Robinson at 902-752-9452 or nrrs@hcrsweb.ca.  

*The Community Health Boards (CHB) of Nova Scotia, through the Wellness Funds, support non-profit groups in developing healthy communities. Wellness Funds support projects addressing local community health plan priorities and the social determinants of health, such as income, education, social supports, early childhood development, etc. These funds are provided by the Department of Health and Wellness.