Job title: Executive Director and Founder, Canadian Centre for Development
Why she’s a 2023 Top 40 Under 40: She started an innovative centre to fill a gap in treating kids with disabilities due to genetic issues and trauma.
Julie Rubin felt her world explode when her now five-year-old son, Kaleb, was diagnosed as an infant with lissencephaly, a rare, gene-linked brain malformation that has caused him severe, life-altering delays. “It very quickly took [my husband Brian and I] from the happiest time of our lives of having given birth to what we thought was a healthy baby to — within three months — turning into the scariest time in our lives,” she says.
Through exhaustive research into treating her son’s condition, Rubin discovered there was a significant gap in services that could help Kaleb and kids like him. Having previously founded two successful businesses — Elevated Learning Academy and Innotech College — she decided to start a third, and in 2021, she and her husband launched SMILE Therapy for Kids, recently rebranded as the Canadian Centre for Development.
The Calgary-based centre offers intensive therapy that is proven to work better than traditional forms of therapy for children with disabilities from neurological delays. It is the only one of its kind in Western Canada, and has helped families from across North America and Europe.
The model is founded on the repetition and consistency necessary to train brains to form new neural connections. “We take kids whose doctors say they’ll never walk, stand or even sit unassisted and help them achieve those goals,” Rubin says. From its origins in Rubin’s basement, the clinic has grown into a 7,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility, with a team of 15 and specialized equipment, including the only Trexo Robotics exoskeleton robot in Western Canada available for public use.
“Being that brain development most actively occurs from age zero to five, we felt a great sense of urgency to open as fast as possible,” Rubin says. “We did it mid-pandemic and with a child that is medically fragile, but we did it, and we’re proud of where that journey has taken us in two years.”
“Brian and my boys.”