Virgin Radio contest brings fun and belonging to an AdaptAbilities family

A simple text message can make your day, change your mood and even make your dreams come true - and that’s exactly what happened for Neo and his family!

AdaptAbilities staff Teri, hired by Neo’s sister Eryn (20 years old), was on her way to the family’s home when a contest came over the radio; to nominate a great kid for a chance to win tickets to an Oiler’s game. Teri took a chance and nominated Neo through text once she got to the home.

Within an hour, Teri got the official word - Neo was chosen as the lucky recipient! Through the Virgin Radio contest, Neo and his mom Lynn were given a chance to take in the March 7th Oilers game vs the Islanders. They had an amazing time!

A huge AdaptAbilities thanks to Virgin Radio for making Neo’s dream come true, and to Teri for her efforts in supporting Eryn’s family and building relationships in the community. We are stronger together, and together we thrive!

AdaptAbilities' recipe for respite in 3rd annual family-focused event

You have a night off. The kids are with the sitter. You can’t remember the last time this happened. You finally have some free time. What are the top three things that come to mind?

Catch up on some much needed rest? Book for a massage? Light candles and run a bubble bath?

Now, imagine trying to do–let alone enjoy–any of these activities not knowing whether your kids are being adequately supported. Children and individuals with special needs are not a burden, but it can be tough to find the right fit when it comes to respite. This makes it even more challenging to find the time and peace of mind to put yourself first.

December 8th, 2016, marked AdaptAbilities 3rd Annual Respite ‘n Rejuvenate event, which coincided with the grand opening of our new office space on Whyte Ave. We were proud to bring a fresh, yet, comforting vibe to the heart of this historic community, highlighting family and community wellness. The tone of the evening was set with live jazz musicians serenading families upon arrival, hors d’oeuvres fit for royalty, and volunteer-based respite offered at no charge. Families were given peace of mind, knowing their child was safely experiencing their own night of fun and belonging.

Complimentary wine and beer were also on the menu, courtesy of Edmonton’s finest–Shady Lane Estate and Alley Kat Brewing. Families got to experience a unique night of self-care, from luxury hairdressing, to mini-manicures, and even massages. A huge thank you goes to the talented and generous folks at Industry Hair Studio, Samantha from Face FX Med Spa, VidaLife Wellness, and Reset Wellness for pampering our families.

One family member who attended said: “I wanted again to thank you all for the wonderful evening at Respite 'n Rejuvenate. I always feel so at home among you and other parents who have special kiddos.

This night would not have been possible without the support of our generous Belong Sponsor, Serene Technologies, and the numerous community devotees instrumental in making this event a success (see slide below). Everyone who supported Respite ‘n Rejuvenate had a part, whether big or small, in creating success for life for the individuals and families we serve. Thank You!


Check out some of the highlights from the evening below, and all the fun that took place in our flashy photobooth HERE.

Our social media campaign leading up to the event reached over 300 new families and supporters, and we are excited for the possibilities these new connections bring! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram today, and help us share how we strengthen families and individuals through the essential services and programs we offer.

Strengthening families through self-care goal of 3rd annual Respite 'n Rejuvenate

What is your one wish this Holiday Season?  Does a new car with remote start, a 90 minute massage or maybe an all-inclusive trip to Bali bring you peace of mind?

The holiday season is time for spending…spending time with friends and loved ones, that is. Sharing laughs over a warm cup of coffee with a friend and catching up after a busy year. The simple things in life often bring us the most joy.

However, the time we take for self-care is often forgotten. This is especially true for someone caring for a person with special needs, let alone any person with a heartbeat and a nine to five.

Imagine your teen is at home on a Friday night with nowhere to go. He says he has no friends, that he has nothing to do, “is bored,” (ah, the statement that makes parents cringe worldwide)! You’ve tried everything to get him involved in extracurricular activities to no avail?

AdaptAbilities is here to tell you that everyone has the right to belong.

We have succeeded in bringing parents and caregivers a sense of belonging amidst feelings of isolation from the world. Through respite, AdaptAbilities provides families the time they need to catch up with a friend over coffee during the holidays, to get groceries, or go for that long overdue date-night. Together, we are strengthening families. 

Our Respite 'n Rejuvenate evening is about building capacity within the family by providing time for essential self-care. Thursday, December 8th, 2016 marks our third annual Respite 'n Rejuvenate, and AdaptAbilities invites caregivers and parents of those with special needs to attend.

Last year, AdaptAbilities was able to offer families an evening of pampering and relaxation with a selection of delectable appetizers, local entertainment, wine & beer tastings. We are excited to offer this same level of care to our families again this year, with a twist! It will be hosted in our brand-new office space on Whyte Ave!

If you’d like to sneak peek the essence of Respite ‘n Rejuvenate and attend the                          Open HouseRSVP HERE.

Edmonton teen skydives to raise funds and awareness for AdaptAbilities

On Friday, October 7th, 2016, 16 year old Jonathan Clarke will jump from almost 10 thousand feet to raise money for AdaptAbilities. Funds brought in will help keep our services financially accessible for children and families with special needs. 

The Edmonton youth worked a landscaping job all summer to raise the money needed to pay for the cost of the tandem jump. With the support of his youth coordinator, John Huntley, Clarke raised an additional $200 as a donation to our organization.

Clarke read about AdaptAbilities online and felt compelled to help. He liked how much we did with children in the Edmonton community, working towards inclusion for all - that set AdaptAbilities apart for him. 

Growing up, Clarke shared he had his own issues with belonging. He had a number of children with disabilities in his life and empathized with their frustrations. When other kids would make fun of them, he would come to their defence explaining: “we are all human - everyone needs to get along.” 

The jump is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Eden North Parachute School Stoney Plain, pending weather conditions; all funds raised will go to AdaptAbilities regardless of if the jump goes through.

To donate to Jonathan’s jump in support of AdaptAbilities, contact Patricia Stransky, Fund Development, (780)431-8446 ext. 3031 or

AdaptAbilities All-Stars shine at this year's Summit Show

On April 23rd & 24th, AdaptAbilities participated in the widely successful Summit Collectibles Sports Show, held at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, Alberta. AdaptAbilities was named the Shows 2016 Charity of Choice and we collected over $450 in donations during the course of the two days. Most importantly, our six AdaptAbilities All-Stars had the opportunity to come out of their comfort zones and truly shine.

So often, those who hire us shy away from the general public or conversely the public from them. The interactions between event goers and the AdaptAbilities All-Stars were incredible.  The acceptance and support from the sports community created an unforgettable experience and an environment for our participants to grow, succeed and belong.

Andrew, Jenna, Brandon,  Austin, Ryley and Ana Rose - six of our sport-loving participants - were featured on their very own sports trading cards. This was all thanks to Summit Show organizer Marcel Eden, and the brilliant folks at Hotspot Creative Solutions. Our All-Stars were at the show all weekend, meeting fans, signing autographs and sharing their passion for the sports they play.

Here is a little bit about each of our All-Stars if you didnt get a chance to meet them during the show:

Andrew is 13 and has been doing Tae Kwon Do for 4 years. He recently tested for his solid green belt earlier this May. To earn his green belt, Andrew learned some self-defense patterns and broke several boards with a variety of kicks. Andrew's goal is to earn his black belt. Awesome! [picture of sports card]

Ryley - or Ry, as her teammates call her - is 9 years old and plays baseball for the Edmonton Amateur Baseball Association. She enjoys infield and last year made a double play while playing second base! Way to go, Ryley! [picture of sports card]

Brandon is AdaptAbilities All-Star bowler! Brandon has enjoyed 10 pin Youth Bowling Canada (YBC) every Saturday morning at Gateway Lanes for the past 10 years. He has won many trophies during this time, as well as a YBC watch for bowling a game 105 pins over his average - wow! Brandon takes pride in being a great teammate and role model to the younger generation of bowlers. [picture of sports card]

Ana Rose, one of our newest participants, is our All-Star dancer! Ana is 6 years old and has been dancing with Amanda's Academy of Dance for the past two years - you may have seen Anas moves in her video that went viral earlier this year. Ana will also be attending our Summer Camp this year for the first time, and is very excited to meet new friends and enjoy all of the activities. [picture of sports card]

Last, but not least, meet our AdaptAbilities Hockey All-Stars, Jenna and Austin. Jenna is an active teenager and has played hockey, her favourite sport, for 10 years. Jenna also enjoys playing floor hockey, basketball, football, golf and more! Ten-year-old Austin eats, sleeps, dreams and plays hockey to the full potential. Austin's goal is to one day make it into the NHL and be the best he can be! Both Jenna and Austin received shout outs from Oilers Nation in their blog post on the event.

Those who donated to collect all six of these limited edition All-Star cards were entered into a draw for a Connor McDavid rookie card - congratulations to our winner, Richard Heydlauft!

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to meet our fantastic group of AdaptAbilities All-Stars. Also a shout out to our neighbouring vendors - Anthony Strong Man & Oilers Nation - for making us feel so welcome in the sports community, and to the folks at The Summit Show for having us. This was an experience that we will not soon forget!

Want more on what AdaptAbilities is up to? Sign up for our monthly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


Meadowlark Makeover

AdaptAbilities’ Meadowlark Respite Centre first opened its doors in October 2007, empowering families and children with special needs through its many diverse programs and resources. From respite to after school care, the space allowed us to carry out our specialized activities at a functional level. We dreamt of being able to expand programming capacity to offer more choice to the families and people who hire us.

In July 2015, this dream became a reality with a generous $18,000 gift from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, a $1000 donation from Ikea, and the helping hands of our invaluable volunteers. Our Meadowlark Respite Centre was transformed into a space truly capable of supporting those we serve in creating success for life.

Thanks to these organizations and our community, we were able to replace all of the old carpet with new cork flooring. The ceilings, walls and all of the lighting were redone, and our kitchen and bathroom were entirely renovated to be made more accessible and user-friendly. We were also able to add a new washer and dryer, three new touch screen computers to our interactive Tech Space, and a mini hockey and foosball table for all participants accessing the space to enjoy.

Of all the renovations that took place, the one we were the most excited about was the brand new sensory play room, funded by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. In addition to it being stocked full of mirrors and sensory toys, we were pleased to be able to add our rippling LED waterfall wall and interactive floor piano. No expense was spared in transforming this previously dark, and uninspired room into a fully functional sensory space. Renovations were completed this past September and, with the help of our generous volunteers, we were able to get the spaced cleaned and set up in the few short days we had prior to its opening.

Today, the Meadowlark Respite Centre has become AdaptAbilitiessecond home. Parents and caregivers have peace of mind knowing that our highly trained, passionate staff now have access to the best toys, tools, and technologies. This enables staff to provide fun and engaging experiences for the children, youth and adults at the centre, while promoting independence and inclusion.

AdaptAbilities continues to grow to meet the unique needs of those we serve! Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming expansion into the summer and fall of 2016.

AdaptAbilities' Annual Fun-Raiser Charity Dinner nets over $40K: New logo and video revealed

AdaptAbilities has been a hidden gem in the Edmonton community for over a decade - but not for long! On April 14th of this year, over 200 guests and volunteers attended our Annual Fun-Raiser Charity Dinner at the Chateau Lacombe Hotel to raise funds and awareness for the one-of-a-kind programs and services AdaptAbilities provides.

This annual event, presented by Dorward & Company, raised $40,000 net towards sending children to our Hearts In Action Camps - that’s 80 children who will have the opportunity to successfully experience camp this summer!

Seanna Collins did an amazing job entertaining guests as our Emcee again this year, and there was much gratitude for the support from MLA Jon Carson (Edmonton-Meadowlark) and Councillor Mike Nickel (Ward 11) who brought greetings on behalf of The Government of Alberta and The City of Edmonton, respectively. Honorary Chair, Elexis Schloss, was also in attendance, and we were honoured to have the folks from Galas & Giving covering our event!

Sean Sonego moved the crowd with his musical talents throughout the evening - participant Jamal started the wave during Sonego’s performance of “Have a Little Faith in Me”, and the room was out of their seats, dancing in the aisles. Guests also had the opportunity to let their inner-child out in our Inclusive Kids Zone and Flashworks Photobooth. In addition to all of that, a lively round of our signature Heads and Tails game was played, and winner Joe Patrouch took home a signed Connor McDavid print, donated by Earl Shindruk.

Event goers were surprised with a live auction that raised $2400. The highest bidders scored themselves admission into the biggest sports collectables show in Western Canada, The Summit Show, organized and auctioneered by Marcel Eden. The auction prizes included an autographed picture, meet and greet with all eight celebrity signers, one autographed jersey of their choice and dinner with Glenn Andersen! To top it all off, our world-class silent auction - featuring a 7-day stay at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel, unrestricted air fare from WestJet, a weekend in Jasper, and weekend Lexus rental – raised $11,500; our infamous Booze Table Raffle, which is donated entirely by AdaptAbilities Staff, brought in over $2000 – our biggest yet!

Founder and Executive Director, Michelle Hordal, shared her moving story of how she came to work in the Disability Sector, and the growth and success of AdaptAbilities to date. She also made some exciting announcements about the future of AdaptAbilities - including the unveiling of our new logo, the launch of our new promotional video (see below), and the opening of our new head office space on Whyte Avenue set for late summer! 

The real showstopper of the evening, however, was hearing from Deborah Harmacy, caregiver to one of our Hearts In Action (HIA) Camp goers, Ryder. Deborah shared 6-year-old Ryder’s struggles in finding a summer program where he could successfully experience the activities and belong. She shared that HIA Camps made that possible; staff were able to separate Ryder's conditions and behaviours from the fun, caring, loving boy that he really is, and the peace of mind she had knowing that he was being successfully supported in a safe and structured environment, gave her time to tend to life’s necessities. Most importantly - Ryder was given the chance to be like every other kid. 

A special thank you goes out to all our amazing volunteers and generous sponsors for the evening listed with their logos below, to our Fun-Raiser flower supplier, Bunches for donating the beautiful thank you bouquets for our guest speakers, and to the renowned Robert Bray for matching child to camp donations by giving away over $11,000 in portrait sessions!

With the momentum gained from this event, we look forward to the years to come, as we grow within our community, building capacity better supporting those who hire us in recognizing their goals, and in celebrating success - for life.

Don’t miss our next Inclusive KidsZone at the upcoming Porkapalooza event on Father’s Day weekend, June 17th - 19th, at Clark Stadium. For details as they unfold, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our monthly newsletter.

AdaptAbilities Brings Inclusion to the Mom, Pop & Tot’s Fair!

There was no shortage of fun at our Inclusive KidsZone during the Mom, Pop & Tots Fair this past March. Being named the Fair’s 2016 Charity of Choice, we were honoured to have the opportunity to raise awareness for AdaptAbilities and our programming, as well as offer a space for all children at the event to belong and have a great time!  

Over 500 children participated in our Inclusive KidsZone over this two-day event. Our volunteers did an amazing job creating an inclusive environment where all kids were able to play and engage in the activities. Many parents and families shared that they had a great time and appreciated the fun games and programming we offered at the event, all free of charge.

Our Inclusive KidsZone had its debut in 2014 at Porkapalooza and is the beginning of a new initiative reaching thousands of people - a first its kind in Edmonton. It is quickly gaining popularity through our work with both Porkapalooza and the Kids Korral. Our welcoming, experienced volunteers and inclusive activities are one of our favourite ways to share our vision of inclusion, one person at a time.

In addition to our KidsZone, we had three exciting Toy Raffles up for grabs. Prize packs included an over-sized Hello Kitty stuffy, Lego, a tricycle, Oil Kings tickets and a number of fantastic children's furniture items donated by Ikea. Congratulations to our winners, Suzanne R., Henry P., and Kelly H., who received over $600 in amazing toys, games and children’s items!

If you missed our Inclusive KidsZone at the Mom, Pop & Tot’s Fair, don’t worry - there will be plenty more opportunities throughout this spring and summer. From our Annual Fun-Raiser Dinner (April 14th) to this year’s Porkapalooza (June 17-19) to our Hearts In Action Summer Camps (July-August), AdaptAbilities’ staff and volunteers look forward to bringing fun and belonging to each event. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our monthly newsletter so you never miss a thing!

Respite N Rejuvenate

“Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health”.

On Saturday, November 28th AdaptAbilities hosted the 2nd Annual Respite N Rejuvenate. This interactive event is centered around the concept of self-care.

Guests were treated to delectable appetizers, wine & beer tasting, and entertainment from the MacEwan University Music Program. Amongst the mingling and socializing, guests toured a health & wellness trade show that showcased local businesses. People were able to gain knowledge in the area of self-care. 

Ultimately, this event was born out of our intimate knowledge of the families we support. We understand and respect that parenting any child is no easy task, but when you have a child with a disability, life often revolves around the needs and services of your child. And too often, your own needs are left behind, unaccounted for. 

Though it was only for a few hours on one particular day out of the year, our desire was for all who were in attendance to experience a sense of being pampered. From all of the joyful noise and smiling faces in the room we are fairly certain our goal was accomplished. Take a look at the photos below.

Annual General Meeting 2015

On Wednesday October 28th AdaptAbilites welcomed members and guests to the annual general meeting at the McKernan Respite Centre. Executive Director Michelle Hordal and board president Jeff Simpson presented the year in review including financials. Members had the opportunity to discuss and ask questions.  Directors Jeff Simpson, Doris Simader, Bruce Hirsche, Eva McQuaid were re-elected to comprise the Board of Directors.

Michelle's Executive Director report followed, including highlights and successes from the past year along with visions and plans for the future. Last year AdaptAbilities began a journey to increased visibility with a number of special events with even more on the books for the current year. Next steps include the opening of new office space which will greatly increase administrative capacity, directly impacting AdaptAbilities' reach and ability to serve families. Top priority in 2016 is to increase capacity by bringing respite into more Edmonton communities. Stay tuned for news of AdaptAbilities expansion into community centres and more. 

The AGM was followed by a special presentation from guest speaker Laura Bechard who shared her inspiring journey of creating an inclusive life for her daughter. Parents and members appreciated Laura's relatable, honest and straightforward representation of her personal journey which struck a familiar chord for many. Thank you to Laura for sharing your story which inspired and instilled hope.

We’d like to thank all the members and guests who took time out of their day to join us for this event. We look forward to the exciting year ahead, working with members and the community to impact the lives of more individuals and families.


Congrats Michelle!

Michelle was recently nominated for the Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ Celebration of Achievement Award. The award is given to an exceptional female entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success. Each AWE nominee is a visionary, inspirational woman who has built entrepreneurial ventures in Alberta with significant impact on the economy and the community and who acts as a role model for women in business. The awards are announced in February 2015.

AdaptAbilities 10th Anniversary Kick-Off Open House

This September kicks off AdaptAbilities 10th year of operation and we would like to thank everyone who helped us kick it off in style!

On Saturday, Sept 13 from 11am – 3pm we had an extremely successful kick off Open House of our new Centre with a BBQ, Draw Prizes, and Children’s activities for what was a fun-filled affair for the 300+ attendees!

Our BBQ was a 5$ donation, and all proceeds are going to the AdaptAbilities Fund, which goes to our Respite Services, After School and In-Home care, as well as our general efforts to raise awareness and promote inclusion in our community.

While words and motives can be powerful tools, it is truly the funding that allows us to give our participants the experiences they deserve to Grow, Succeed, and Belong.

Commemorating our new Centre, we painted a Mural Mosaic on the wall and inside. The Mosaic is unique in that each person is given a personal square to express him or herself freely, while all the smaller images combine to make a larger one. Designed by it is a true testament to individual uniqueness making up a greater and beautiful whole.

Every attendee was also placed in a Draw for 5 nights out with participating restaurants! This includes dinner and drinks for two, as well as childcare for every night if required!

We also prioritized for the children, as the event was well equipped with Jumpy Tents, Games, and a wealth of other activities for your little ones. 

So how was it? We hope all the attendees enjoyed the afternoon, and once again, thanks so much for helping us kick off our 10th Anniversary with a great time for the whole family!

Grow, Succeed, & Belong



HIA Summer Camps Wrap Up a Successful Season!

The Alberta AdaptAbilities Hearts in Action Summer Camp capped off another successful season last week, with the seventh and final week.

The whole summer was a huge success with a record, near capacity camper attendance, and glowing reviews and stories from Participants, Parents, and Staff Members alike.

The Camp began in July and finished mid-august, and had participants consistently out in the community enjoying everything beautiful Edmonton has to offer during Festival Season. From the Street Performers, to Taste of Edmonton, to K-Days, to Heritage Days, and the ongoing Fringe Festival; HIA was there to soak it all in.

But beyond the weekly field trips and daily activities, what the heart of HIA is, is to allow our Participants chances to develop the self-confidence and curiosity to “Grow, Succeed, and Belong” in the community. And this is what Staff Members were privileged enough to witness everyday.

Whether it was improving communication and developing better coping skills, or learning new things to gaining confidence in skills they’ve always had, every Participant showed noted growth and success as they grew comfortable in the camp, and bonds began to grow tighter between them and other Participants and Staff Members.

The Camp was broken down into a multitude of age groups and a ratio of about 2-1 Participants to Staff.  Everyone was able to build a strong connection with those in their groups and with whom they were working with. The comfort developed with the HIA family is important to the Participant getting the most out of camp as they can, and everyone left with some of the fondest of memories of those they got to know at Camp.

As we progress into After-School Care and Fall Respite programs, AdaptAbilities is already looking forward to the new school year, and next summers HIA!

We hope you are too, and we’ll join us on our mission to help our participants GROW, SUCCEED, and BELONG.


10th Anniversary kick-off Open House!

To celebrate 10 years of operation in the Edmonton community, AdaptAbilities is kicking off our 10th year with an Open House, BBQ, and a painting of a mosaic mural in the new Centre to commemorate the milestone. 

On Saturday, September 13th from 11 am to 3 pm, feel free to stop by our new Mckernan Centre for a BBQ - provided by K&K Foodliner - (all proceeds go to our programs), a tour of the new Respite Centre, music, games, jumpy tent, face painting, arcade alley, and good family fun to commemorate our passed decade, and to look forward to the next one. 

Individuals who have been a part of the AdaptAbilities family are welcome to paint a personal square into our 10th Anniversary Mural. If you have worked with us, been a participant, or have been affected or influenced by AdaptAbilities, this is a call on you to come paint your own square which will be a part of our very own Mosaic Mural Maserpiece, organized by Phil Alain at the Open House, and show the role you played in helping us grow! It is most appreciated. 

We look forward to seeing all of the familiar faces we've met and gotten to know over the years, as well as new people who are looking to learn more about the organization. 

Come joins us in kicking off the 10th Anniversary for AdaptAbilities!