Kelowna airport hosts accessibility event
Bad Video Embed Code

Kelowna airport hosts accessibility event

Canucks Autism Network event brings families together to help deal with air travel

By Mark Dreger

For parents like Cheryl Poff and her five-year-old son Charlie, traveling with children with autism can be challenging, but B.C. airports are trying to make things easier.

The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and Kelowna International Airport (YLW) hosted the first-ever YLW Accessibility Tour Sunday for families living with autism. The “I CAN Fly” tour takes families through the entire pre-flight process, including entering the airport, waiting in line, passing through security, and boarding a plane.

“He’s been doing really well,” Poff told the Capital News while holding her son. “He’s going to be starting kindergarten next year, but we’re really happy to be involved with a lot of things that CAN brings to the Okanagan.”

Charlie was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age two-and-a-half and has been receiving intervention ever since.

After spending the last four years at the Vancouver International Airport, CAN brought the event to YLW—Canada’s 11th busiest airport—to bring the service to other families across the province.

“We have 77 individuals coming through the airport today, which is huge,” said Kayla Ungaro, regional coordinator with CAN, “so it’s an exciting time for us to be able to provide something like this.” Having a child with autism adds additional challenges when it comes to travel. It’s been a year and a half since Charlie last flew in a plane, but with his increased intellect and language skills, Poff appreciates that Charlie will be able to get the practice at an older age to help make future travels easier.

“Kids with autism thrive on routine and knowing what’s happening,” Poff said, “and unfortunately because we don’t get to fly often—we just don’t have that luxury or that lifestyle—they don’t really get to practice it, so it’s meaningful for us to be able to participate in activities like this that kind of expose them as much as we can to these little life events.”

Poff does not have any major travel plans ready yet for Charlie, but hopes to take him to see family in Manitoba in the spring and then perhaps a bigger trip at a later date.

“Travel is often quite a barrier for many of our families,” Ungaro said. “There’s the unfamiliarity with an airport, with travel, there is so many sensitivities that many of these individuals experience, so by being able to provide them with resources and kind of the opportunity to go through and practice what it’s like to be able to go through the process of checking in and boarding a plane, it just gives them the opportunity to be that much more comfortable and hopefully successful with travel in the future.”

With having a child dealing with autism, parents like Poff enjoy CAN’s events that help their children further navigate the world around them.

“I think we’re just happy to have the opportunity to participate in things like this that make these unpredictable events a little bit less stressful for us and a little bit easier for our kids,” Poff said. “Anytime CAN brings something to the Okanagan that brings the community together, we try to participate because there’s usually something that’s going to benefit our children and us as parents to learn how to go through these life events. We’re just really thankful to have such a good organization helping us and helping our children. We just feel really lucky.”

The Canucks Autism Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing year-round sports and recreation programs for individuals and families living with autism while raising autism awareness and providing training opportunities in communities across British Columbia.

The event was possible in collaboration with WestJet, YLW, and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Kelowna airport hosts accessibility event

Just Posted

(Jen Zielinski - Black Press Media)
Man arrested after hours-long standoff in Rutland

RCMP surrounded a home on Leathead Road, Monday night

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
More development allowed around Kelowna General Hospital

Zoning for area around KGH amended to allow multi-family housing developments

This dog is going to the SPCA if its owner isn't found. (RDNO Dog Control photo)
Several ‘owners’ claim lost Vernon dog as theirs

‘Dumped’ dog being kept in foster care until rightful owner can provide evidence of ownership

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP intercepted an impaired driver Sunday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Impaired driver pulled off Vernon road thanks to public tip

RCMP Drug Recognition Expert called in for assistance in investigation of Coldstream man

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Penticton paramedics took about 70 per cent more calls for drug overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019, Interior Health representatives told Penticton council Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. ((Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton seeks $300K grant to help address opioid crisis

The grant would provide $100K a year over three years to a Community Action Team

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
‘Just a blood bath’: Woman recounts finding victim during West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Kevin Barrett is charged with attempting to kill his mother, leaving her on a forest service road in April 2019

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cody Younker, Revelstoke city councillor. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke councillor accused of sexually abusing Langley teen while school chaperone

Civic lawsuit alleges Cody Younker sexually abused student while volunteering on school trips

Most Read