Cowichan United Way supports little ‘Marios’

My name is Leah and my son Zander is witty, charming and one of the sweetest boys you will ever meet.

He was born a few weeks early, but still weighted in at a healthy 8 lbs, 2 ounces. He began life full of energy – though when he was small, I noticed that lights bothered his eyes. One day I picked him up from daycare and he ran towards a train that was in the front yard. I couldn’t catch him. Our daycare provider said Zander was having a hard time moving from task to task and making eye contact. She suggested we see a doctor and call the Clements Center.

At first I was in denial about needing assistance. However after meeting the staff, I learned how to help Zander. Things like he needs deep pressure to calm him, or to twirl him to stimulate his senses. Zander, too, has learned many coping skills. One of the more unique ones is to go into character as Mario. Shopping was a task I generally avoided as Zander would be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. Now, he dresses up in complete costume and goes into the Mario character, and he can cope. It is wonderful.

Zander was waitlisted for Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder diagnosis. Shelley at the Centre helped me manage through the many different stages Zander went through. She has been there to listen, and helped me realize that I had to grieve and move forward in a positive way.

You may see little Mario in the store. Feel free to say "Hi Mario". That way my

little Mario will say hi back to you. He gets many smiles when we are out and I appreciate them all.

The Clements Centre runs many excellent programs, and United Way is pleased to highlight how children like Zander are able to get the help they need. If you want to make more little miracles happen, donate today by calling 250-748-1312 or go to visit www.cowichanunitedway.com.

All funds raised in the campaign will go to support programs like these.