Little boy smiling as he enters a large red pipe

New lease on life through early intervention

By Mark Brett, Penticton Herald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Needing a heart transplant at seven months old to stay alive, Hudson Suh’s story is one of strength and determination.

After spending nearly the entire first year of his life in a hospital bed, when he was finally well enough to leave, the young boy had challenges in his physical development.

So when the Suh family, Joe and Tiffany,  relocated to the Okanagan in 2020, they enrolled “Huddy,” who is now four, at the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre. There he underwent the life-changing, early intervention services including occupational and physiotherapy and speech pathology.

“It’s been a very long journey for us but it has made such a huge difference for Hudson, before the centre and after the centre, it’s just a matter of night and day,” said his dad. “For the first three years of his life he had a hard time running and everybody at OSNS has just allowed him to grow into this boy who can now balance, and jump and even run. Because he’s on the smaller side amongst his peers it’s important for him to be good at these things.”

In addition to the physical challenges facing Hudson, interventionists noticed certain behavioural issues and just after his second birthday he was diagnosed with autism.

He was then enrolled in the OSNS autism intervention program where he is making huge strides.

It’s because of the many children in the South Okanagan-Similkameen who, like Hudson, need critical early intervention services, that the Wildstone Construction Group has long been a supporter of OSNS.
For the month of March, the family-run business has now offered to match donations to the centre of up to $3,000.

“Everyone at Wildstone is always excited whenever we get to support our friends at OSNS,” said company president Mark Melissen. “They are such a great resource and support for so many families in the Okanagan.
“We encourage others to donate to OSNS and make a difference in the lives of local children.”

Manisha Willms, who has worked as the centre’s executive director for  10 years, said this money is crucial to centre operations.

“Sadly the economic viability for pediatric rehabilitation services like ours depends on fundraising campaigns, it shouldn’t but it does,” said Willms. “One of the beauties of our fundraising efforts is that the money we do raise goes directly to services for kids, so by definition, the less we’re able to fundraise the less we’re going to be able to help.”

“We try to help everyone who comes through our door, but we only have so many resources so if we have more resources, absolutely more kids get help.”

Donations can be made online at: osns.org/donate or at the centre located at 103-550 Carmi Ave. To learn more about the OSNS and  the OSNS Legacy Foundation go to osns.org and osnslegacyfoundation.org  or contact Megan Windeler at 250-492-0295.

Top image credit: Hudson Suh is all smiles as he prepares to navigate the tunnel under the supervison of OSNS senior interventionist Angel Niehe

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