Alberta woman brings support for parents of children with Down syndrome to Red Deer

By Kirsten Dennis
June 14, 2017 - 12:01pm Updated: June 14, 2017 - 3:11pm

Red Deer is host to a multitude of support systems for parents of children with all kinds of special needs.

A new one specifically for parents of children with Down syndrome is now available.

Adele’s Over the Rainbow Baskets, run by Krista Rowland-Collins, just expanded to Red Deer and Edmonton this past weekend. Rowland-Collins provides baskets for families who have a baby born with Down syndrome.

“The idea came from a friend in the U.S. Alaina started Beau’s Baskets of Hope and I was so excited to start a similar project in our City. I felt that it was something that was needed as it can be a very difficult time for families,” said Rowland-Collins.

Rowland-Collins is based in High River and, up until this past weekend, delivered to the hospitals in Calgary. Baskets have also been sent as far as Ontario and Medicine Hat.

“We try to keep the baskets here because it’s the visit with the families that is most valuable and what brings the family comfort,” said Rowland-Collins.

To date, Rowland-Collins has delivered 59 baskets to families. They include approximately $1000 worth of goodies for the families including items like photo shoots, gift cards, jewelry for mom, onesies for baby, clothes, books, resource lists, blankets and more.

Rowland-Collins herself has a daughter with Down syndrome, Adele, who was the inspiration for the project.

When a baby is born with Down syndrome a social worker visits to assist the parents and asks or offers them a basket. Rowland-Collins says to date she doesn’t believe the opportunity has been turned down.

“I never realized the positive impact the baskets would have on a family. I have stayed connected with a lot of the moms and we support one another,” said Rowland-Collins.

Other supports in Red Deer for parents of children with Down syndrome include Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre. Michelle Sluchinski, executive director, said while the programs are not specific to Down syndrome, they are all-inclusive and bring parents together.

“Families like to still be connected (on summer break) and so we operate the Park It program,” said Sluchinski.

The Park It program is a very simple meeting at a park hosted by a facilitator who gathers the attendees with a bit of structure including songs, crafts and a goodbye song. The program is parented so children must attend with an aid, parent, or guardian.

Sluchinski said Aspire staff feel like part of the community of special needs children, and the Park It program provides an opportunity to touch base with parents and put parents in touch with families in similar situations. 

The Park It program starts July 2 and runs Tuesdays and Thursdays in Red Deer from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and operates in either Lacombe or Blackfalds on alternating Wednesdays starting in Blackfalds.

For more information on Adele’s Over the Rainbow Baskets visit and for more information on Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre visit


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