5 May 2021

as told to KidsAbility by Jody O’Malley – mom of four, a Red Seal Chef, and local co-owner of The Culinary Studio

Community philanthropy is deeply rooted in my core values so when my business was approached by KidsAbility Foundation to host an online cooking class for a fundraising event, I didn’t hesitate.

KidsAbility holds a special place in my heart. Both my eldest daughter and my youngest son have benefited from services.

My eldest daughter was born missing her left hand – her “little arm” we affectionately call it. At 6 months old, she was fitted with her first prosthetic arm. It involved long days travelling back and forth to Toronto.

Having KidsAbility within our community allowed us to use local resources that made it far easier for our family. Our Physiotherapist at KidsAbility assisted with helping her learn how to use her ‘new’ arm and work on her fine motor skills.

Becoming a parent is overwhelming. So many things to learn, adapt and change. As a new Mom facing an extraordinary situation, I had so many questions. KidsAbility was a place that I found supportive, knowledgeable and understanding staff, giving parents like myself the gift of making those situations easier and brighter.

Jody O’Malley, proud parent, business owner, and supporter of KidsAbility

Fast forward ten years.

As a mom of four, I found myself back at KidsAbility with my two-year-old son.

Diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, my son only had a handful of words. Most of his communication was head nods and shoulder shrugs. I remember thinking at this point if my son would only say a few words, I would make them count…and taught him to call me ‘Beauty Mama’.

For over two years we worked with Martha our Speech-Language Therapist at KidsAbility.

With a great deal of hard work and determination, along with Martha’s gentle guidance and wealth of experience, my son’s shoulder shrugs changed to sounds. From words to two-word sentences.

Now he has endless conversations and inquisitive questions. 

At seven years old, he no longer calls me ‘Beauty Mama’ but I have pure gratitude every single day with his ability to communicate. My little guy does not stop talking and I am eternally grateful for KidsAbility’s part in giving him a voice.

KidsAbility provided my family with the support and resources to help my kids flourish – we are so fortunate to have such an amazing organization within our community.

Whenever we drive by KidsAbility in Waterloo we wave with an acknowledgement of gratitude. In the words of my son, “KidsAbility is amazing because it helped me speak!”