AdaptAbilities Helps its Community Adapt to COVID-19

With the help of ECF, AdaptAbilities takes their learning tools online to help more than 50 clients fund success

When the pandemic hit, things turned upside-down for 26-year-old Lesleigh.

Lesleigh is used to being a very busy person. She loves to draw anime, wear her favourite jewelry, and spend her day with other adults with special needs (she has a diagnosis of Autism) in the AdaptAbilities Community Connect Program.

“Having no routine for more than weekends was starting to take its toll,” said Lesleigh’s mother Julie. “She had no reason to get up early so she didn’t. When she did get up, she would pass time on her computer or with her video games. When those got boring she would spend her time sleeping. There was no need to get dressed daily, no need for jewelry, no need for anything except pajamas.”

This is where AdaptAbilities stepped in with their online programming. AdaptAbilities helps individuals with special needs develop the essential life skills they need to grow, succeed, and belong. With support from  Edmonton Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund of $20,300 (which they received on April 27), they piloted and continue to provide online essential life skills curriculum with training in social and job skills.

“A sense of belonging is essential to our health and wellness, both mental and physical,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said. “Adaptabilities could provide that through Community Connect, along with offering valuable learning opportunities.”

News of the grant was very exciting for the staff at Adaptabilities.

“When the online programming was suggested, both Lesleigh and I were very enthusiastic about it,” Julie said. “She is very capable with a computer and there was no doubt that she would be able to navigate the platform quite well. Luckily I was working primarily from home so I was around for back-up in the event there were any issues connecting, etc. We were part of the pilot week and have been with it ever since. This program was just the thing she needed to regain herself.”

“With COVID-19 we needed to establish a new way to support families and individuals with special needs,” said Michelle Hordal, Founder and CEO of AdaptAbilities. “As our history shows, AdaptAbilities is strong at discovering gaps and addressing them. Our programs have always grown out of listening to the needs of families that have a child, youth, or young adult with disabilities, and filling those needs.”

The program offers 12 online sessions per week for a total of 24 hours of sessions using the Zoom platform. There are 52 people total in the sessions, which are held on mornings, afternoons and two evenings per weekend. Topics have included nutrition, exercise, feelings, relationships, money management, and people-smarts.

“The biggest positive is that Lesleigh has that sense of routine again,”  Julie said. “She gets up in the morning and showers and dresses as if she were going out to the program. She always looks her best and is even wearing her jewelry again. She is also learning a lot from the programming that is quite varied but on point for these people who are trying to navigate life as well as their disabilities.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.