1950s - 1960s
The Mobile Cerebral Palsy Clinic comes to Kitchener-Waterloo and introduces the benefits of therapy for children with cerebral palsy. Rotarians ask the question: How can we provide this service locally?
A therapist is hired and treatment takes place at K-W Hospital. The following year, Howard Hawkins calls for a permanent building to house a treatment centre and facilities that could provide local children with physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
The Rotary Club of Kitchener-Waterloo forms the North Waterloo Society for Crippled Children as an incorporated body in September 1955. The founding members of this new society are: Dr. Don Bastedo, Roy Brown, Russell Buie, Walter Hatch, Howard Hawkins, Dr. Stonewall Jackson Hawkins, Morris Hay, Miles Hudspeth, John Martin, Wilson Martin, Arthur Snider and Carl Weber. Known as the Kitchener Cerebral Palsy School Board, it begins the school year with just six students located inside K-W Hospital.
Property is purchased at 828 King Street West in Kitchener for $25,000 that will host a custom-built facility to provide local children with therapy, eliminating the need to travel to Toronto for regular appointments. The centre is designed by local Rotarian and architect Carl Rieder and built by Dunker Construction for $106,000. The cornerstone is laid by the Lieutenant-Governor, Louis Breithaupt, and Clay Hall, President of the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Waterloo.
March 24 the K-W Rotary Children’s Centre celebrates its grand opening in Kitchener. Dr. Glenn McFadden serves as the first medical director, Norah Barrett the first head therapist and Roy Brown the first administrator.
As the region grows, the K-W Rotary Children’s Centre expands to serve children from Cambridge and Guelph in addition to Kitchener and Waterloo. Services are extended to children with communication challenges and other disorders.
The first addition is built to the Centre that includes two school classrooms and a therapy pool. Ted Witzel spearheads the fundraising drive to make the addition that cost $110,000 possible.
It is evident that the Centre has to expand again to meet the needs of the community. Plans are made to add a large classroom, four speech therapy offices and a library/meeting room. Again, Ted Witzel leads the fundraising campaign with a goal of $125,000.
The Martin Family