The Culture Chronicles
Power of the Collective
My life was turned upside down when, at the age of two, my beautiful baby boy received a diagnosis of autism. At that time, there were few resources for autism treatment in Toronto. People like me were scrambling to find help. Research showed that the best outcomes resulted from early intensive behavioural intervention. It felt as though a clock were ticking. I hired a team of young university grads and American consultants to lead and train our home-based program team. It was intrusive, intensive, challenging and costly, but we saw progress!
One day, I was driving our consultant to the airport when she said that we need a school for our children and families. Bridget Taylor was (and is) at the top of her game, and her word was golden. I had no idea how to start a school, but by creating one, it may help to make sense of the diagnosis. Maybe, this was our path to a higher purpose. Thus began my journey to spearhead this initiative, to make a difference for my son Miles, and a whole community of families affected by autism.
How would we overcome obstacles and change the landscape without any experience in starting a school? How would we secure charitable status, form a board of directors and committees, raise all those dollars, find a great clinical director, and locate a school site?
To achieve these essential goals, we collaborated with a community of like-minded families, interested professionals, caring friends and compassionate contacts. An influential client offered to help us gain charitable status; a dear friend generously offered his law firm's services and co-leadership on the board; a lovely client and dear friend shared her not-for-profit expertise and precious time on fundraising and communications committees. A core group of five families brought their knowledge and extensive resources forth - and in two years, we opened the New Haven Learning Centre.
Twenty years later, New Haven continues to grow and support many individuals and their families. My son inspired me to create a Centre where kids on the autism spectrum can learn and thrive — a place where many have an opportunity for a brighter future.
What I learned:
- You don't have to know all the answers, but you need a vision.
- People want to help, and they want to make a difference.
- Surround yourself with diverse contributors and create something great.
- You are unique and your insights are valuable.
- Creating places where people can thrive is in my DNA.
It is no coincidence that at Kirsh Design, our approach incorporates these core principles. Whether creating a school for kids with autism or innovating a remarkable workplace, "Teamwork makes the Dream Work".
Kirsh Design is a Toronto based interior design firm dedicated to elevating wellness and prioritizing people in the workplace. Our team is a collective of diversely talented people. Together, we make a difference. Together, with our clients and stakeholders, we co-create innovative hubs, where people and ideas thrive.
Do you know of a company that is interested in learning more about the influence of wellness-based interior design and its power to elevate workplace culture? We would love to make a difference for you and your team.
I am eternally grateful to these exceptional human beings and many others, whose wisdom, contribution and support made New Haven Learning Centre a reality. Thank you Karen Goldenberg, David Chaiton, Patricia Crosbie, and Gerald Hayden RIP.
Forward to a friend