Martin C. Barry
More than a decade after the University of Montreal pledged to use their vast teaching resources to improve life in Park Extension while building a new satellite campus, U of M officials honored the promise earlier this week with the opening of a new clinic to assist children with learning difficulties or who need help with their teeth or eyesight.
Located on Beaumont Ave., the multidisciplinary Centre L’Extension is an outgrowth of a project started six years ago by U of M Faculty of Education professor Louise Poirier, who first sowed the seeds at École Barclay on Wiseman Ave.
VSP mayor impressed
“From what I’ve seen here today, this is something that will be very important for the children of Park Extension,” VSP Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli said in an interview with Nouvelles Parc Extension News.
“Here now finally we have a centre with all the necessary equipment dedicated to providing services to the families and children of Park Extension,” said Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros. “They will be providing free service to the children and families who can’t afford it.”
Coutu fund donation
The centre will be staffed by senior students from the U of M completing internships during the last phase of their studies, under the supervision of university professors.
L’Extension’s move from École Barclay to the new location, in a large and modern suite of offices, was financed to a significant degree by the Fondation Marcelle et Jean Coutu which donated $2 million.
Children from Park Extension whose teeth need filling, repairing or straightening, who have eyesight problems and need glasses, or who have learning difficulties, will be able to receive diagnostics and treatments at the clinic free of charge.
Orthodondist from Park Ex
One of L’Extension’s leading dental experts is Dr. Athéna Papadakis, who grew up on de l’Épée Ave. in Park Extension and is now a professor of orthodontics at the University of Montreal.
“This is a story of community efforts involving families from Park Extension, schools from the area, professors and students from the University of Montreal, more than 350 generous donors and a major philanthropic partner, the Fondation Marcelle and Jean Coutu,” said University of Montreal rector Guy Breton.
Giving back to community
He added that the university wants to dispel the impression by some people that the U of M’s administration dwells in an ivory tower.
“It was my dream to establish a centre in a less fortunate and multiethnic area, since the parents in these neighbourhoods don’t have the means to pay for specialized learning services in private clinics, and schools and school boards aren’t always in a position to offer such services to all the students in difficulty,” said Louise Poirier.