In 1966, the North Okanagan Neurological Association (NONA) began as branch of the Okanagan Neurological Association. Parents of children with special needs and Dr. Art Sovereign, local paediatrician, were instrumental in obtaining phyisiotherapy services for children. The Kelowna-based physiotherapist would travel to Vernon one day per week and to Penticton one day per week to provide service.
In 1973, the physiotherapist spent two days a week in Vernon and the other days in Penticton and Kelowna. It was at this time that parents began exploring the service options available to their children and incorporated a society (NONA) in 1975. In 1976, the physiotherapist began therapy services in Vernon at NONA three days per week and Salmon Arm two days per week.
By 1974, parents of preschool-age children actually drove their children to Kelowna so they could attend a preschool program. By the spring of 1975, an afternoon preschool program began in Vernon. Due to its success, the program expanded to offer both morning and afternoon classes in 1978.
In 1979, the Society sponsored the Infant Development program which started with one full-time position. Shortly thereafter in 1982, the Society hired a part-time speech-language pathologist without any secure funding from any source. The Society did its own fundraising for this position and received enormous support for the local Kinsmen Club.
By 1986, speech services were funded by the Ministry of Health. During this time period, NONA also added the Family Resources program (1987), Respite Care (1988) and two integrated preschool programs (also in 1988).
In 1998, we started the Supported Child Development Program and in 1999, due to a shift in the way services were being provided, funding for specialized programs was no longer available. Both of the integrated preschools were closed. In 2000, we celebrated 25 years of services to the children and families of the community.
In 2001, the Centre added Music Therapy to the list of programs offered. Also in 2001, we began a three-year pilot project called Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention to address the needs of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In 2005, this program evolved into the Autism Services Program for both children under 6 and over 6. We have recently added FASD Key Worker role to our list of programs and services.
Sadly in November 2010, we said good bye to our Respite Care program when the Ministry of Children & Family Development assumed the contract. For 23 years, we have been proud to provide respite services to the families of the North Okanagan.
In May 2006, we moved into our new building, the Sovereign Treehouse. We are very happy to house the North Okanagan Pediatric Clinic, as well as the Interior Health Children’s Assessment Network on our third floor.
Over the years, the number of children we serve has increased from 120 per year to well over 400. Correspondingly our staff has increased from 8 to 35 in the last 25 years.
In 2015, NONA celebrated 40 years of service to the north Okanagan.