Shelburne initiative raises $9,000 for students with special needs

April 18, 2017


GUELPH, Ontario – A local initiative has raised more than $9,000 to support children in Shelburne elementary schools.

Deanna Avison – also known as the “Autism Grandma” – has spent the last few years working to raise funds and promote autism awareness through her initiative “Hearts Wide Open for Autism.”

Recently, Avison, along with Hearts Wide Open for Autism co-chair Megan Young, held their 2nd annual fundraiser to support children with autism and other disabilities. Through the generosity of the community, $9,064 was raised at the Mystery Dinner Theatre fundraiser.

The funds will support students with a wide range of special needs, for instance, providing additional educational resources, technology or teaching aids in Shelburne’s four elementary schools: Centennial Hylands ES, Hyland Heights ES, Glenbrook ES, and Primrose ES.

According to fundraiser organizers, the town of Shelburne has grown considerably in the past year, and so has the number of children with autism spectrum disorder – which makes these funds that much more important.

Avison said it warms her heart to see children using tools that have been purchased using money raised, knowing how important it is for these students to be able to communicate and provide sensory devices to help calm them on a hectic day.

“Shelburne is a small town with a big heart,” said Avison. “None of this would be possible without all the wonderful people who donated.”

The donation was made through the Upper Grand Learning Foundation (UGLF), a charitable organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for students, families and their communities within the Upper Grand District School Board. The UGLF is a separate, not-for-profit organization and is not part of the UGDSB.

On Thurs. April 13, Avison presented the donation at the UGDSB board office in Guelph.

Hearts Wide Open for Autism UGLF donation April 2017

Pictured above: (L-R) UGDSB’s Jan Stokman, Hearts Wide Open for Autism’s Deanna Avison, and UGDSB Superintendent of Education Denise Heaslip.