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Multi-sensory space for neurodiverse children in Montreal reopens after flooding

There aren’t many things Maya McKergow enjoys more than her Saturday mornings at Caden’s Lighthouse.

And for her parents, there’s nothing better than watching their six-year-old laugh and play at a place that makes her feel safe.

“There’s nowhere really in Montreal that we bring Maya comfortably,” her father, Jason McKergow, said. “It’s difficult enough to go into a restaurant, the extent of that would be sitting down at a fast food place. We don’t go to sit-down dinners with her. We don’t bring her to many other places to play because there’s other kids, she doesn’t play properly with them, it could be dangerous to her.

“So, to have a safe place where she’s able to be herself and have playdates and stuff, it’s very very important.”

Last July, Caden’s Lighthouse, geared for neurodiverse children, was flooded after a heavy rainstorm slammed parts of the city.

The sewage water contaminated nearly everything.

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Owner Rachel Ricci said floors and walls had to be ripped out and rebuilt, and all of their specialized equipment had to be reordered.

It took about 10 months, $225,000 and a lot of hard work for it to finally reopen this week.

“The Go Fund Me ended up helping us out a lot, and I’m very grateful for everybody who stepped up and a lot of private donations had come in too to get us off the ground,” Ricci said. “It was really nice to rebuild this place as a community.”

The multi-sensory space, located in Montreal west, was opened in 2020 in honour of Ricci’s son, Caden.

Ricci created it after not being able to find a space where her son could safely learn and play.

Since then, she’s built a community of parents and children who use the lighthouse as a hub for individual play time, playdates, therapy sessions and more.

“As soon as we parked, she knew we were going to Caden’s Lighthouse, she knows the area, she’s used to her routine from that — she didn’t forget,” McKergow said. “Right away, she walked down the stairs, walked right into the lighthouse and jumped into the ball pit.”

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