Media Room: About Steffanie Prins Bjorgan
Steffanie Bjorgan’s career has always centered on the education of and advocacy for children. She began by teaching at the primary level for the District School Board of Niagara in 1990. Her focus grew in 1993 when her second son, Garrett, was born with Cerebral Palsy, a neurological condition that can occur due to trauma to the brain during or shortly after childbirth.
With limited resources available at the time for alternative care, Steffanie became motivated to devise a concept for comprehensive care, incorporating summer camp experiences, therapeutic alternatives, and eventually addressing respite needs, providing the caregiver temporary relief from the ongoing daily needs of children and adults with special needs.
In 2000, Steffanie and her husband, Moe, founded Red Roof Retreat to provide a place where children and young adults with special needs can “learn and grow in a safe, nurturing and fun environment”. In 2001 it acquired its charitable status. In 2006, respite services were added to provide weekend relief for families and caregivers, “we were responding to the many requests from our camp families”, says Bjorgan, “it was a very natural progression”.
Steffanie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brock University in Child Studies and Education in 1990, and taught elementary school for 16 years. During that time, she participated in various pilot programs and in-services including ‘Early Intervention: Screening and Assessment” with the Learning Disability Association, “Teaching the Non-Verbal Child” with the Kitchener-Waterloo School Board, and “Non-Verbal Learning Disability and its Impact on Learning” with the District School Board of Niagara.
She served as Director and Chair for the Parent Advisory Group of the Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre and was Parent Representative to the Advisory Board for CANCHILD: Neurodevelopmental Research Unit at McMaster Hospital in Hamilton.
Her interest in alternative therapies led to her involvement in coordinating advanced courses for Occupational and Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists, including the Intermediate Neurodevelopmental Treatment Course and Clinical Intensive for Physical and Occupational Therapists.
In 2004, Steffanie was recipient of the Rotary International ‘Paul Harris Achievement Award” for Advocacy and Change in the Community and received the ‘Peggy Anderson Volunteer Award” for Advocacy for People with Special Needs in 2006. Steffanie was nominated for “Women of the Year” in 2012.
Steffanie lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with her husband, Moe, and her three sons, Owen, Garrett and Isaac, her two dogs, and many, many other animals.
Received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community Service in 2013. In the picture is Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
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