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Molly’s Reach: Cape Breton couple to build retreat for neuro-divergent children

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As a growing little girl, 3-year-old Molly McNamara has a lot of energy, and she’s lucky enough to live in a place where she has room to let it all out.

"Wide open spaces,” her father Sean McNamara explained. “She loves to run, and she doesn't really stop from the time she gets up until the time she goes to bed at night."

Molly has autism, and until fall 2022, the family lived in Dartmouth.

In a stroke of fate, the family ended up packing their bags to live at a large piece of farmland in Big Baddeck, N.S.

"We moved here in November, and we have noticed since moving out of the city here that she is just doing amazing,” Molly’s mother Stephanie McNamara said.

Difficult experiences while traveling led to the couple coming up with a big idea for their big property.

"We were looking for a place to take Molly on vacation, and we noticed that there weren't really too many autism-friendly locations even across Canada,” Sean explained.

Now, they plan to convert their land into a retreat called 'Molly's Reach'.

The idea is to create a place for children who are neuro-divergent, along with their families.

"I mean autistic kids, kids with ADHD or Tourette's Syndrome,” Stephanie said.

The hope is that their location, which is close to the start and end of the Cabot Trail, will be convenient for families who are traveling.

"We're breaking ground, I guess as they say, in the fall,” Molly’s mother said.

By next summer, they hope to have two brand new accessible cabins, and hope to welcome their first families.

"Then after that, we're building a massive sensory barn,” she added. “The barn will have everything a neuro-divergent kid may need."

The couple is in the process of getting a business loan, and they're looking for community support.

The first of many fundraisers for Molly's Reach, a concert, is set to take place July 16 at a church just down the road.

"There are so many kids here in Nova Scotia who are neuro-divergent, and there isn't a space like this,” Stephanie said.

The hope is also that by having kids like Molly McNamara -- the project’s namesake and inspiration -- around will mean Molly's Reach will be its own reward.

For the latest Nova Scotia news, visit our dedicated provincial page.

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