Wellness | Physical Health

March of Dimes Canada

March of Dimes Canada is a national charity providing services to Canadians with physical disabilities for over 65 years. Our purpose is to serve adults and children with physical disabilities, by maximizing their independence, personal empowerment and community participation.

Our Story

Why We Exist

In October 2017. March of Dimes Canada held a two-week pilot of the Calgary LIFE program to assist Calgary youth with physical disabilities to develop life skills for an independent life. Here are some of the responses from the program’s participants.

  • “It allowed me to go to places that I’ve never been before. It’s a great program for developing socially.” – Megan
  • “I don’t usually get to go to these kinds of places since I don’t really have other people I can go with” – Chantal regarding the Studio Bell outing
  • “I was nervous before I got here but now I’m really glad I came. I like this program and I’m excited to go to the zoo.” – Daulton
  • “This program makes me wish I lived in Calgary. I love it. I don’t want to go back to my other program.” – Megan regarding the LIFE program (she lives outside of Calgary)
  • “When will we know if the full LIFE program comes to Calgary?” – Chantal (she has asked a few times by now about the full LIFE Calgary program)
  • “It’s the end of the program. So sad.” – Jasmine

Based on the success of the pilot, in Fall 2018, we held a full 10-week LIFE session in Calgary, with plans to hold two more in 2019.


Our Impact

What We Do

March of Dimes Canada was founded in 1951 to assist individuals stricken by polio. Upon the advent of the Salk vaccine, our purpose was expanded to serve all adults with physical disabilities, by maximizing their independence, personal empowerment and community participation.

In 2001, we expanded their mandate to include children and youth. Today, March of Dimes Canada is one of the largest providers of community-based services to children and adults with physical disabilities in Ontario, with over 1,600 employees in over 90 locations. In 2006, we began to extend our programs nationally, and currently also have services available in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, with plans to further expand across Canada.

In 2017-18, we provided 4.0 million hours of direct service to over 73,000 children and adults across Canada, who suffer from a range of disabling conditions, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, acquired brain injuries, the effects of stroke or polio, and other conditions. The services provided cover a broad range of needs, all with the common objective of increasing community participation and empowerment, including Employment and Recreation programs, Independent Living Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Peer Support programs to stroke and polio survivors, and much more.

Our Programs

How We Do It

March of Dimes Canada’s Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (LIFE) program helps youth with physical disabilities develop life skills such as financial management, healthy living, and using public transit, to move them toward an independent life. Young adults with physical disabilities, upon graduating from school, often need extra assistance to prepare them for the challenges of aging out of youth services. LIFE offers a combination of Life Skills Workshops, Transit Training (how to use public transit with a physical disability), Social & Recreation Outings, and Conductive Education, a physical rehabilitation program.

MODC operates successful LIFE programs in the Greater Toronto Area, and in Fall 2017, in response to local pleas from persons with disabilities, families and caregivers, health professionals and other disability services organizations, we launched a two-week Calgary LIFE pilot program, delivering many of the components of the full-time LIFE programs in Toronto. The success of the pilot and the feedback from the participants, many of whom hoped the full LIFE program would come to Calgary, led us to hold a full 10-week LIFE program session in Calgary from September 10 – November 16, 2018.


Activities included classroom workshops on topics such as financial literacy and healthy living; social and recreational outings including rock climbing and hiking the Fish Creek accessible trail; and music therapy sessions.

The LIFE Calgary program facilitated some big changes for the participants, as a result of their participation in the program, including:

– Volunteers at Good Life Fitness
– Has joined a work study program at Scotiabank Cineplex (a place LIFE visited on an outing)
– Takes conventional transit independently

– Takes conventional transit independently

– Volunteers at Autism Calgary (has an existing relationship with MODC)

– Volunteer position at Studio Bell (this is one of the places LIFE visited on an outing)

This will be followed by a 10-week session beginning April 29th, 2019 and a second 10-week session in Fall 2019, if we can secure sufficient funding.


Our Requests

What You Can Do

Our goal is to bring the full LIFE program to Calgary, with four 10-week sessions held throughout the year, offering the full range of LIFE programming.

You can help expand the Calgary LIFE program, by providing:

  • Funding support: Donations will go toward funding classroom and workshop space, recreational outings and transit training trips, and equipment such as adaptive cookware for healthy cooking classes.
  • Gift-in-Kind donations: Calgary LIFE needs items such as tablet computers for classroom work.
  • Volunteering: Volunteers can draw on their career experiences to provide classroom presentations in areas such as the job search or financial literacy to our participants. We also need volunteers to assist our participants in classroom activities and recreational outings.


Stay Connected


Brandon MacLean

Regional Manager, Development


Charitable Number: 107883928RR0001

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