Pack away the snowshoes and toboggans and make way for your favourite spring activities. Along with warmer weather on our doorstep, April also brings us National Autism Awareness Month. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Here at Laval Families Magazine, we strive to bring good causes into the spotlight, and that is reflected in this issue’s content.

Our Cover Story
Read about the Asista Foundation and its founder, John Agionicolaitis, who turned his childhood love for animals into a non-profit organization that provides service dogs for individuals with PTSD, Autism or other mental disabilities. Get the full story on page 6.

Special Needs & Employment
Randy Lewis, former Vice-President of supply chain and logistics at Walgreen’s in the US spoke to a large group of employers and business leaders in Laval recently, and provided insights on how businesses can be doing a better job on including individuals with various disabilities into their workforce. Lewis spoke from a business and personal perspective, as he is the father of a young man with autism. Read more about Lewis’s visit on page 10.

Summer Camp Guide
Still thinking about where to send your child for summer camp this year? Be sure to check out our summer camp section starting on page 40 with informative articles and plenty of tips and tricks.

Laval Families TV Show Making Waves
Laval’s first ever English TV Show is already gaining momentum in its first season following its launch in February! Read about the exciting guests and upcoming projects on page 12, and how YOU can cast your vote to have stories that are important to you featured on the show.

Community Connection
Have you ever wondered how the mayor of our city, Mr. Marc Demers, goes about his day? Nine-year-old Erika Guarnieri and her family spent an entire work day with Mayor Demers and went behind-the-scenes at City Hall. Read about their experience on page 15.

Featured in Laval
The first annual Salon des Amimaux is set to take place this May, where pet lovers and enthusiasts can learn all about their favourite pets, attend pet care workshops and have fun with the family all at the same time! Get all the details on page 52.

Soul Over
A new theme in our magazine on page 37 explores the topic of women coming into their own after the age of 40. TV Show host and guest journalist Sammie-Line Rompré gives us a glimpse into her thoughts on what it means to be 40+ & thriving!

Meet Your City Councillors
Your municipal councillors introduce themselves on page 16. Learn about your city’s districts, the decision-makers who strive to make Laval shine, and maybe a few fun biographical facts you didn’t know before!

Educational Business Training
If you are a business owner or manager, you’ll want to check out a new personalized business service being offered by the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. Qualificaction is a program designed with the modern business in mind! Find out more on page 20.

Be sure to check out our contest page for your chance to win some great prizes from Putting Edge, Aux Petits Pas & Boston Pizza. You can also vote for your favourite teacher and have him/her entered in a draw to win amazing prize packages! See page 33 for details.

Young Authors Contest
Our long-standing Young Authors Contest continues to surprise and delight. The “Journalist for Day” edition continues, this time with our winners interviewing local celebrities Pino Pirillo and Frank Cavallaro. Read the candid Q & A from these interviews, starting on page 34.

Fun with the Family
Need some fresh ideas on what to do with the family this spring? Check out our activities section starting on page 46 for plenty of places to go and things to see!

Final Word
With the spirit of inclusion and a deeper understanding of how our community can inspire others to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families, I would like to suggest that you find a way to support a cause that does just that. Can you volunteer your time? Can you make a charitable donation? Can you offer other professional services with your skills? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.