Our Programs

Ability First Ottawa provides services and opportunities for people with and without developmental disabilities.

This non-profit organization offers flexible programs devoted to the development and promotion of creativity, well-being and community among those with Learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism spectrum disorders and Developmental Disabilities.

The staff ratio is one staff member assisting two participants and the goal is to have ten participants per program. At all times, there will be Developmental Service Workers, along with Developmental Service Workers field placement students, a volunteer from the community, two nurses on staff and two Personal Support Workers.

This community program is being created to build bridges with other organizations such as police services, day care services and other mentorship programs. This program will allow individuals with disabilities to help and mentor other individuals with the same disability as well as help them achieve their goals successfully.


Monthly Programming Available:

Summer Camp: Ages 10-70 years of age. Programming includes: recreational activities, special guests, motivational speakers, live bands,  artistic activities, theater, and much more.

AFO-Adult-Skills-TrainingAdult Skills Training:

Our Adult skills training is uniquely designed to build and develop the skills necessary for individuals to maximize their potential. We have multiple styles of learning to focus on individual needs such as music therapy, art and recreational activities as well as several workshops. We utilize these methodologies to stimulate learning and encourage developing skill sets such as:

  • employment search and enrichment
  • communication and social development
  • computers and technology


AFO-MentorsProfessional Mentors Team:

Our Professional Mentors Team is a group of individuals with disabilities who discuss personal experiences to help motivate and empower the participants to build up self confidence within a work place setting. The Professional Mentors Team set up workshops and motivational speeches that assist students  in the Developmental Service Worker program as well as the Personal Support Worker program.


AFO-Youth-VolunteersYouth Volunteers:

Youth Volunteers are persons with disabilities who assist participants with program workshops. These mature individuals are seeking a better understanding of the Developmental Service Worker field as well as the Personal Support Worker field. General volunteers are a great asset to our program as well as co-op students. They have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and guidance alongside the professional mentors.


Housing Assistance:

AFO assists vulnerable members of our community in obtaining safe, market-rental housing. Being homeless is EXTREMELY dangerous for individuals with developmental disabilities, and Ability First Ottawa works tirelessly to provide this population with the support they desperately require.

The goal of the program is to provide participants the opportunity to thrive independently in safe and affordable accommodations.

A.R.T. in Action Workshop: (on going session dates may vary)

art_in_actionAFO is thrilled to partner with A.R.T. in Action to offer a 12 session art program for our participants.

A.R.T in Action was founded in 2014 by artists Mailyne Briggs of  Dream Love Grow and Sarah Lickley. Mailyne and Sarah met while engaging youth and promoting employment and entrepreneurship. They are both passionate about art’s vital importance in young people’s lives and believe strongly in the positive impact that art can have. They noticed the lack of arts programming in various communities and wanted to make an effort to change that. With the support of local artists and generous donors, they were able to facilitate a free 6 week art and multimedia workshop for youth ages 14-29 at PQCHC.

The programming offered by A.R.T in Action has connected youth with art professionals and business owners and in doing so, provided mentorship and employment opportunities. With a small but dedicated team, A.R.T in Action is growing to become an inspiration and integral part of building relationships with youth so they can be a positive change within their own community.

Lyme Disease Initiative:

The Ability First Ottawa Lyme Disease Initiative will be a first of it’s kind Lyme Disease program which will bring Lyme Disease awareness, education, support and resources for everyone living with, affected by, and concerned about this endemic disease currently on a significant rise in our region. Established by Ottawa resident and Lyme Disease warrior, Crystaljoy Parman, the Ability First Ottawa Lyme Disease Initiative began as a charitable awareness event to shed light on Lyme Disease in the Nation’s Capital. To be hosted during Lyme Disease Awareness Month, May 2019, Light Lyme now aims to not only raise awareness of Lyme Disease in our community, but will now serve as a fundraiser to launch the Ability First Ottawa Lyme Disease Initiative. Stay tuned as many more details regarding Light Lyme and the Ability First Ottawa Lyme Disease Initiative are about to come to light!

For more information please contact  Crystaljoy Parman at


Coming Soon June Fitness Tuesdays:
In terms of sharing the progression of Abilities First Ottawa (AFO) with our friends I would like to take the opportunity to mention an idea that was generated from our Participants. Three of our individuals expressed an interest to work out together at the gym and informed Christina Ranieri of their desire to do so. The physical exercise is obviously beneficial for them however, it also created an opportunity to spend time together. The social activity and the feeling of inclusion in making their plans is definitely supported and encouraged by the parents and Developmental Service Workers (DSW).
The reality of being involved with program planning is essential in furthering their confidence for future decision making. AFO provides a hands on approach while working out at the gym and supporting these young adults around health and fitness training. The guidance and support that is offered by parents and DSWS, for example, transportation, indicates the willingness of everyone to work together.
Written Credit Maureen V.
To be added to the sign up list for June you can email abilityfirstottawa@gmail.com please   add the information about your loved with disabilities so that an intake can be booked.