Telus donation funds technology for Vancouver special needs students

Telus donation funds technology for Vancouver special needs students

More than 1,500 special needs students in Vancouver will now have access to the latest learning technology, thanks to a donation from Telus and a grant from the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign.

Currently there is no money available to provide this technology — a combination of iPads, Apple TV and special apps and programs — to help special needs students accelerate their learning, said Mette Hamaguchi, the Vancouver School Board’s principal for student support.

Hamaguchi had applied to AAS for $63,200 to purchase equipment for three programs that serve about 1,500 children in 118 groups who have varying degrees of special needs but lack the latest technology that would help them learn.

Each group has 10 to 15 children.

“iPads are the great learning equalizer for kids with learning disabilities, and we are so grateful to Telus and The Vancouver Sun for their help,” said Hamaguchi.

Because the children are scattered throughout the district it is difficult for parents to get together to fundraise, she said.

Telus donated $20,000 to supply equipment for 340 students attending 41 high incidence programs in 24 secondary and elementary schools.

The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund board, which administers AAS, voted to grant $43,200 to the school district in order to fully fund the three programs.

High incidence programs are for children with severe delays in acquiring literacy and numeracy skills, plus other learning challenges.

The other programs come under the low incidence program, which deals with children who have mild to severe intellectual challenges or autism and the behaviour program which deals with children with social, emotional or mental health issues.

Telus vice-president of community affairs Jill Schnarr said giving back to the community was “part of our DNA.”

“We are committed to helping children reach their full potential by having access to the latest technology. We have donated $200,000 to Vancouver schools through Adopt-A-School in the last six years,” said Schnarr.

And it was vital that special needs children get the support they deserve, she added.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to help.”

The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund board chair Harold Munro said special needs students should not be left behind.

“It’s something we feel strongly about and the board was in full agreement that we fully meet this request,” said Munro.

The Telus donation was made at east Vancouver’s John Norquay elementary where there are a number of special needs children who will now have access to this technology.

Principal Margaret Jorgensen said the equipment would allow these children to keep up and  “learn at their level.”

“It could be in reading or a numeracy program that supports them, depending on their learning needs. It puts these programs into their hands in a way that’s engaging and acceptable.

“These are very specialized, targeted programs,” said Jorgensen.

Meanwhile, in the school’s basement Telus volunteers — as part of the company’s Days of Giving campaign (May 13 to June 11) — were helping with the school’s annual book exchange for the sixth year running.

More than 21,000 Telus employees, retirees and their family members are expected to take part in this year’s Canada-wide campaign by helping out in their communities.

Since 2000, Telus has donated $482 million to various charities and community organizations. The telecommunications company has supported AAS from the beginning.

By Gerry Bellett (

Get Involved. Share the story or donate now.