Over the 25+ years since we opened our door, we’ve become a hub of the community. We’ve also created a larger community with all the great people and organizations we’ve worked with over the years. Check out more on other pages including Partners, Sponsors, Calendar, Art Gallery and more.
Over the past couple of years we’ve created a series of Dovercourt Stories, to celebrate some of the unique people that make up our community. Portraits by Dwayne Brown Studio, words by Sarah Banks and John Rapp.
THIS IS AUSTIN. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Austin is facing a lot of challenges for a little guy. He doesn’t speak much, eats through a feeding tube, and his vision isn’t great, but he feels very much at home at Dovercourt. He has made lots of friends, loves to explore, and has really improved his social and swimming skills. Austin has learned a lot and grown more confident every day.
He loves his camp buddies, those special staff who help him navigate his day. Austin is a great teacher: the staff who help him have learned that he is more capable than they might first think, and other clients who are in programs with him or meet him in the lobby have learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover: Austin is a kind, funny, and loving guy, and we love having him at Dovercourt.
THIS IS SHELLEY ANN. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Shelley Ann Morris grew up across the street from Dovercourt and learned how to swim in its outdoor pool in 1968. It was also the place where she discovered her visual impairment wouldn’t be a barrier to her personal fitness goals.
In 1992, Shelley Ann enquired about joining a group fitness class at Dovercourt. They said “Come on in. We’ll find a way to make it work.” They ensured Shelley Ann had lots of helpful verbal cues and hands-on correction. She started with a step class and moved onto strength classes, circuit training and spinning, which helped her to train for multiple CN Tower climb. She has also completed over 15 triathalons.
In addition to being a client of Dovercourt, Shelley Ann has sat on the Board of Directors, where she tirelessly advocated for accessibility and inclusion.
“Dovercourt does many good things that go unseen”, says Shelley Ann. “Families in crisis, people with disabilities, seniors with health issues, children with behavioural difficulties – Dovercourt always rises to the challenge.”
THIS IS BARBARA. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Life changes when you have a stroke. Barbara Davies knows this fact personally, after having suffered a stroke in 2007. “I honestly wasn’t sure I’d ever walk again”, she says. “And in addition to my body failing me physically, I was depressed, not knowing what the future held.”
But when a therapist at Elizabeth Bruyere Hospital recommend the Post-Stroke Aquafit program at Dovercourt, Barbara took the advice and never looked back. Determined to get her strength back, she took aquafit for two years and then added rehab walking to the mix.
Eight years after her stroke, she has amazed herself and those around her with what she has accomplished. Her “use it or lose it” philosophy has taken her far. But so too has the support of Dovercourt. “Everyone is so nice at Dovercourt,” says Barbara. “I come all the way from the east side of the city because there’s nothing quite like Dovercourt over there.”
THIS IS KAREN & ANTWAN. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Antwan and Karen moved to Canada from Syria on December 28th, 2015. Competitive swimmers and swim coaches in their home of Aleppo, the war both destroyed their livelihood and put their family at great risk.
Someone told Antwan and Karen’s father that he should call Dovercourt to find out how to gain the qualifications to work in aquatics in Canada. We were happy to help, and guided Antwan and his sister through getting their lifeguarding and instructor qualifications from the Lifesaving Society. They attended a staff screening, and both are now working as part of our aquatics staff.
THIS IS IAN. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
In 2014, Ian Blagden heard about Dovercourt’s WAVE (Work and Volunteer Experience) program for people with autism. Ian himself had just recently been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, also known as Asperger Syndrome. He jumped at the chance to enrich his life skills and employability.
He started as a volunteer apprentice, and within a year he had a paid position wearing two hats – Group Lead and Social Media Coordinator.
And while the paycheque and responsibility are nice, it’s the boost in confidence he’s most grateful for.
“WAVE helped me realize I was capable of much more that I actually thought I was. I could lead and manage and communicate. It’s been a very empowering experience for me.”
THIS IS PATRICK & ALLISON. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Allison and Patrick began working together at Dovercourt as teenagers. They proved to be excellent lifeguards and swimming instructors, and quickly advanced to head lifeguard positions and leadership training roles. Their aptitude and interests in emergency response training led to them studying to be paramedics, and both succeeded in getting full-time jobs with the Ottawa Paramedic Service.
We love seeing our staff alumni succeed and take great pride in our part in that.
Somewhere along the way Patrick and Allison also discovered that they really like each other and got married. We are also delighted to have played a part in that.
THIS IS DAVE. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Dave Adams is a man with a mission. Dave wanted to create a multi-purpose winter trail along the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. After proving his concept to the NCC with a two week trial in 2015, Dave got the go-ahead to do a full season 20 km trail, but he needed the community behind him. With the help of local community associations, some great local sponsors, and great crowdfunding, Dave worked with Dovercourt to buy a grooming machine, a storage container and provided the SJAM trail that thousands enjoyed. Dovercourt has partnered with Dave to provide the administrative support, insurance, and stability to ensure that Dave’s idea keeps going and going, just like Dave does.
THIS IS WILL. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Liberal MP Will Amos will never forget how his local community centre helped shape his values. As a hyperactive kid in the early 1980s, Will found a safe outlet in Dovercourt where he could expend his boundless energy. As a teenager, he channelled that energy into his role as a counsellor for the after-school program.
“I developed an understanding and appreciation for community-building very early on in life and Dovercourt played an important part in this”, says Will.
The leadership skills that Will honed at Dovercourt took him far. In addition to becoming an environmental lawyer, Will is now the Liberal MP for nearby Pontiac, Quebec.
To this day, his love for what Dovercourt represents remains strong. He was a key player in the creation of a new community centre in his riding, and didn’t hesitate for a second to call on Dovercourt Executive Director, John Rapp, for advice on how to make this new community hub a success.
Life often comes full circle and it pleases Will to no end to now see his own children skate, take dance lessons, and cross country ski at their new community centre.
THIS IS APOLLONIA. THIS IS DOVERCOURT
Apollonia came to us first as a camper in our summer camp program. As she had many physical challenges, we worked closely with her parents to ensure that we could provide Apple with a great experience and eliminate as many barriers as we could so she could learn, play and grow with us. After many years in camp, Apple went on to complete our Leader-in-Training program and the Counselor-in-Training program. She has most recently taken on volunteer roles in the After School program and as a Camp Buddy. Apple is a great role model and offers a high level of compassion and support to some of our younger campers who need a bit of extra care.
THIS IS BARB. THIS IS DOVERCOURT.
Barb came to Dovercourt as a supported worker from the Ottawa Association of People with Developmental Difficulties. Barb recently received a 20 year employee service award, and has made lots of friends, learned important life and social skills, and even started her own house cleaning company during her time at Dovercourt.
Many supported workers and volunteers from local service organizations like OCAPDD, Tamir, Wise Owls, Christian Horizons and more learn how to be responsible workers, live more independently, and improve their social skills at Dovercourt.
THIS IS JOHN (AND JOHN). THIS IS DOVERCOURT.
Both of these guys have been staff of Dovercourt for over 25 years, and are equally dedicated to making sure our clients have a great experience. John McLeod has been making sure that the centre is clean and ready for everything.
As a young man, John was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum, more precisely with Asperger’s syndrome. In his case, he is able to live and work mostly independently, and is certainly able to communicate, especially if you want to talk about cars, a subject he loves and is very, very expert in. John is an important part of our maintenance team, and one of many supported workers who come to us with assistance from the Ottawa Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Difficulties. He is very responsible, knows when he is supposed to be at work and what he is supposed to be doing, and carries on even when the change rooms are crazy or obstacles get in his way – like that time he walked many kilometres to work during the bus strike.
THIS IS MIJN. THIS IS DOVERCOURT.
Mijin is also quick to remark how unique Dovercourt is compared to other rec centres. “The social benefits of Dovercourt are just as great as the physical,” she says. The women in my pre-natal class connected so well that we would often go to the pub after aqua-fit. And Dovercourt even hosted a potluck picnic at Dovercourt after our babies were born.”
And speaking of the social benefits being just as great as the physical – Mijin returned to work 20 lbs lighter than her pre-pregnancy weight!