Reilly's Story

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Eliminating Barriers for Our Children


Recreation therapy helps children, youth and families to enjoy their leisure and recreation to the fullest. By working with our families and community partners, KidsAbility’s Recreation Therapists help to eliminate barriers and enhance opportunities so that when our children are ready for the community, the community is ready for our children.



In June 2015, Reilly’s physiotherapist at KidsAbility referred her family to KidsAbility’s Therapeutic Recreation Services to help their 2 ½-year-old daughter to participate in dance. By working closely with organizations in our community, Recreation Therapists provided consultations and training to staff to help develop inclusive and specialized programs that made it possible for Reilly to take a dance class with the other children her age.


“I met a gorgeous little girl with plenty of spark and spunk, and a family prepared to do everything possible to give her the same opportunities that her twin brother would have,” said Meg Shirley, a KidsAbility Recreation Therapist. “That first class was a success, and I remember hearing about a very happy little girl who was particularly proud of the pink ribbons installed on her walker for the class. Since that first dance class, Reilly has tried just about every type of activity available to young children in our community: swimming lessons, art classes, horseback riding lessons, skating lessons, and now this winter, she has taken up skiing with Track 3. These activities will help her to build the strength, endurance, and balance she needs as she works towards her personal goal of walking independently. And, best of all, they will provide her with a lot of fun along the way.”

There are many benefits to therapeutic recreation as it not only helps to improve the physical health of our children and youth, but it also provides opportunities to learn new skills, make new friends and increase their self esteem and self confidence.  

“For us, Recreation Therapy has opened so many doors which have allowed Reilly to try new things and share her gifts,” says Reilly’s mom, Siobhan. “Meg is a fountain of knowledge, and is always more than happy to help us find programs and explore new activities so that Reilly has every

opportunity to get involved. We are so grateful for her role at KidsAbility.”

Recreation is rooted in community. An open and inclusive community is what leads to meaningful participation for all. Recreation Therapists at KidsAbility work closely with community partners to develop inclusive and specialized programs to break down barriers that help to move children and youth off the sidelines and into the action.

By working together, we are enhancing opportunities for children and youth with special needs to participate as fully and independently as possible in our community. Whether it's drumming, wheelchair basketball, biking or as in Reilly’s case, dance–our therapists work with our children and families to help them find their passion, discover their strengths and reach their potential.