Tragedy underlined service need

A lack of services for children with autism and their families was highlighted by a tragic incident in Prince Rupert earlier this year.

A lack of services for children with autism and their families was highlighted by a tragic incident earlier this year in Prince Rupert, but a groundbreaking ceremony was held in December for a facility and service aiming to assist.

In April, Prince Rupert RCMP were called to a home on Ebert Street where the bodies of a mother and her son were found. Angie Robinson had taken the life of her 16-year-old son Robert, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, before committing suicide.

After the tragic incident, their family began calling into question the services offered to children with autism and their families in Prince Rupert.

“A complete assessment of current services and services required are at the forefront of the family’s investigation – so that the hopelessness felt by a mother who wanted nothing but help with her son so that he could live with her forever will not be felt by another family,” read a statement released by the family in April.

Scheduled for completion in 2016, the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub will aim to connect British Columbian families with services and support, and to provide them with hope. The building will host the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation (PAFCF).

Located in Richmond, the facility will serve as a hub, with the foundation having future plans for up to eight spoke centres throughout the province.

The foundation also has plans to create an online network to provide information and education to families living in remote communities, as well.

The project’s total is $33 million, with $20 million coming from the province. GoodLife Fitness founder and CEO David Pathchell-Evans is the project’s lead donor and has contributed $5 million to the cause.