Living Standards | Poverty, Food, Housing

Ability4Good (Ability Society of Alberta )

We are a community-based nonprofit, operating as part of Enterprise4Good. We develop social networks, offer services and create caring communities for those that are most vulnerable so that they can live with dignity, achieving their goals and aspirations. 

Our Story

Why We Exist

Founded in 1979, we started as a program led by parents of children with cerebral palsy. The program was housed at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, and provided information and education related to assistive technology for children with special needs and their families. We quickly realized we had the capability of not only assisting children and their families but also adults with special needs.

In 1984 we became a nonprofit, charitable organization named the Technical Resource Centre, and in 1998, we rebranded as the Ability Society, incorporating seniors into our service delivery while continuing to be an advocate for persons with special needs in the community.  We have continue to respond to the needs of the community and are proud of our innovative history.

To reflect the diversity of programming under the Ability Society, the agency was structured with Enterprise4Good to direct the varied operations of Home4Good (programs for seniors), Good4U (social enterprise), and Ability4Good (programs for children and families).   We focus on providing services where they are needed most that are self-sustaining, cause-related and entrepreneurial.

Our Impact

What We Do

Ability4Good core services are provided to children with special needs ages 2-17 and their families.  The vast majority of the children we support are diagnosed with autism although we do also provide services to children with other diagnoses such as Global Developmental Delay, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Fragile X
Syndrome. The families we serve face other challenges such as poverty, single parenthood and isolation.  One other demographic piece to note is that 60% of clients served are immigrants. This is significantly higher than the Calgary average of 28% (City of Calgary Populations Profile, Immigrants).

We focus our impact through our Early Bird program that provides a family-centered, play-based, multidisciplinary approach for service delivery. These services provide individual consultation and coaching to a child and their family. It is intended to support them in acquiring specific skills, learning strategies and building capacity to help the family promote their child’s participation in activities of normal daily living.

The program is overseen by a Clinical Director and involves contributions from many disciplines and specialists including: Occupational Therapists, Behaviour Consultants, Psychologists, Physiotherapists and Speech Language Pathologists. On average, every month 90-100 children and their families received this support in 2018-2019.

Futureways is a family centered, play-based program that provides children and youth under age 18 with
disabilities and their families an opportunity to obtain the skills, competencies and confidence necessary for community inclusion. We aim to assist children and their families learn how to negotiate life’s transitions, with the ultimate goal of helping children be as productive and independent as possible when they transition into adulthood. The format of the Futureways program consists of a combination of one-on-one support and group sessions as determined by the needs of the child and family. Sessions may take place in either a home-based environment, in the community or in our facility. Participants may also be in weekly group sessions at our facility or in the community.  On average, 100 to 120 children in 2018-2019 participated in our programs every month.

Our Programs

How We Do It

We focus our efforts on three key areas.

Intervention Services
Specialized and Developmental Aide Services programming supports families of children with a range of disabilities, to help them acquire specific skills and learn strategies from a multi-disciplinary team of professionals over a set period of time. We also offer a Triple P parenting program, which focuses on parents of children with disabilities who have behavioral or emotional disorders. It gives positive parenting support to build positive relationships, planning to avoid or manage potentially difficult situations, teaching new skills, and more.

Early Intervention Services
These have a slightly more social focus. Our Strive program provides a helping hand for families with kids diagnosed with a range of disabilities. Children from 3–17 get to participate in recreational and social activities with peers in a safe group environment while providing parents time for themselves to attain their own personal goals. Our Thrive services, meanwhile, is a Community Aide program which aims to enable children with disabilities to participate in goal-oriented, recreational, social and community activities with other kids and youth.

On-Site Services
We’re proud of our facilities in Calgary and Edmonton, which are available to members of the public for a small fee. This includes a sensory room, which is designed for people to engage in sensory exploration and promote relaxation through various forms of lighting, soothing sounds, and touch in a failure-free environment. Our Gross Motor Room is a space for families to play and have fun with their child, by engaging in gross motor activities such as climbing, running, jumping, ball skills, and balance. We even have a ball pit, slide, and climbing walls!

We also offer Computability services to help persons with special needs and seniors to improve their computer literacy. At a minimum of one hour per week, our volunteer tutor assisted program provides one-on-one training from basic skills to Microsoft Office, web design, programming, or even just using the internet.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Volunteer Positions
We’re always happy to have a helping hand. We’re currently looking for Play Facilitators (to work weeknights from 6-8 pm with children with special needs) and Play Organizers (to help us organize our toys, playroom, and Volunteer Tutors in the Computability lab (for 2 hours on weekdays).

Funding Opportunities
There are several areas where we’d appreciate financial assistance to better meet client needs:

  • Increase Accessibility ($150,000): Programs are out of reach for clients with mobility issues as there are steep stairs to climb to access our site.  An elevator would make all the difference for them to reach the help they deserve.
  • Volunteer Coordination ($50,000): Development of a high quality volunteer program including Volunteer Guidebook, job descriptions and postings of positions
  • Sensory Room ($15,000): Requires updated materials to assist clients of all ages with special needs to relax and explore their senses.
  • iPads ($10,000): These can help children with autism who are non-verbal communicate with their family members through the use of technology.
  • Musical Instruments ($6,000): We can help clients find their rhythm and emotional regulation through drumming, chimes, and other instruments.

Stay Connected

Contact

Sherry Hiebert-Keck

Clinical Director

403-262-9445 ext. 105

Charitable Number: 89212 7333 RR0001

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