June 5, 2018 - 11:15am
The Cocchias to be recognized at VIU’s June 6, 10 am Convocation Ceremony
As well as their work overseeing a varied business venture through the Crew Group of Companies, focused on hotel, spa and property management, Sergio Cocchia and Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia are dedicated to 'building a village' for families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For their work in the field of children’s philanthropy, the Cocchias will be recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Laws at VIU’s June 6, 2018 Convocation Ceremonies.
Their vision is to establish direct support to families, provide unbiased information, and connect families to each other as well as with researchers, academics and governments and access to technology. The Cocchias have a unique and personal understanding of the needs of the family living with ASD as they too have a child who is on the Autism Spectrum.
“Challenges and solutions, we believe, begin with families,” says Mr. Cocchia. “The path for our families living with ASD is a long and arduous one. It has financial challenges, with approximately $60,000/year required for proper therapy. Families living in rural areas, and many parts of Canada, simply do not have the resources they need. Also, there is the challenge of understanding the plethora of treatment options.”
ASD is a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders. Those diagnosed with the disorder present with problems in social communication and social interaction. Also seen are restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities. Symptoms are typically recognized between one and two years of age. However, long-term issues may include difficulties in creating and keeping relationships, maintaining a job, and performing daily tasks.
Mr. Cocchia adds that one in 66 Canadians is affected by autism, compared to one in 2000 10 to 15 years ago (Source: Health Canada). That’s a 2,000 per cent increase in the last to 10 to 15 years. While it is a spectrum, he explains, 80 per cent are profoundly affected.
“The hardship for the family is having the financial and emotional resources to manage, as well as information," adds Ms. Lisogar-Cocchia. "For many families across Canada, there is no village.”
The Cocchias founded the Pacific Autism Centre Foundation and Society, a family led initiative to establish an “Autism Spectrum Disorder Knowledge Centre” for the province of British Columbia. The Good Life Family Fitness Family Autism Hub opened November 9, 2016.
Mr. Cocchia serves as President of the Pacific Autism Family Center Foundation and Society; Ms. Lisogar-Cocchia serves as the Foundation’s fund-raising Chair. As proponents of this project, the Cocchia’s secured a $20 million grant from the provincial government towards the completion of this $35 million initiative.
In Budget 2018 the federal government announced $10.9 million of support for their new initiative, the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Exchange (AIDE), a national tool for families living with ASD.
“We are passionate about the cause. We work hard because we see a lot of peers with families who are devastated and alone in their struggle. Our vision is to build a village so these families are no longer alone,” says Ms. Lisogar-Cocchia.
For their commitment to this important work, Sergio Cocchia and Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia have been recognized with many awards including: Humanitarian Award from the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation; Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal; Order of British Columbia; Luminaries award from Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.
Tags: In the Community