The PADDLE Program (Providing Adults with Developmental Disabilities Lifelong Experiences) is parent driven initiative that received start-up pilot project funding from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

To create and sustain a safe, accessible and inclusive wellness and education centre for adults with developmental disabilities – ‘an equitable pathway to wellness and opportunity’.

The PADDLE Program exists to provide unique learning and life experiences for adults with developmental disabilities, encompassing personal choices, mutual respect, acceptance, and community inclusion. We believe in empowerment and advocacy for each person inspiring them to value their full potential and share their success.

The foundational element of our values is equity. All values should be viewed and lived through an equity lens.


  • Nothing about them without them – people with disabilities and lived experience need to be involved in all aspects of planning and promotion of the Program
  • Positive growth in healthy, safe and inclusive communities
  • Physically and financially accessible


  • Listen to people with lived experience
  • Honour choices
  • Make time and space for different communication styles
  • Meet people where they are at, not where we think they should be


  • Supporting wellness and health equity including aging in place, respite support and health and safety for people with disabilities
  • Promoting self advocacy and amplifying disabled voices


  • Accountability to participants’ and their caregivers’ ideas and choices
  • Meaningful opportunities for participants to lead
  • Sharing lived experiences to support each other


  • Create the feeling of security and support where there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity
  • Create intentional connections for teamwork, peers and caregiver support leading to collaboration, problem solving, and better decision making

The PADDLE Program provides adults with developmental disabilities opportunities and choices in learning experiences and community involvement.

The participants are individuals who:

  • Have a developmental disability;
  • Are no longer able to attend school due to their age;
  • Want to participate in a community-based program; and
  • Wish to continue their education in a program that accounts for their needs and interests.

The PADDLE Program is designed to be:
• Flexible
• Adaptive
• Inclusive
• Community-Based
• Interactive
• Responsive to individual needs, choices, interests and abilities

The PADDLE Program is designed around five core sections: Academics, Physical Fitness, Life Skills, Recreation and Leisure, and Community Involvement/Placement.

The PADDLE Academic Program Includes:
• Classroom Activities
• Computer Lab & Emailing
• Library Activities
• Individual Worksheets, Books and Journals
• Study of Current Events in the Community, Province, Country, and World

The PADDLE Physical Fitness Program Includes:
• Gymnasium Games, Activities and Sports
• YMCA: Swimming, Gym
• Skating
• Outdoor Activities e.g. Kate Pace Way
• Exercise Classes
• Physiotherapy/Massage

The PADDLE Recreation and Leisure  Program Includes:
• Snoezelen Room
• Theatre
• Games
• Arts & Crafts
• Sensory Art
• Books and Smart Stories
• Movies
• Music Experience
• Pet Therapy

The PADDLE Life Skills Program Includes:
• Menu Planning & Budgeting
• Cooking and Food Preparation
• Baking
• Grocery Shopping
• Housekeeping
• Laundry

The PADDLE Community Involvement Program
The PADDLE Learning Centre prides itself on encouraging participants to be active in our community.  Recreation, leisure and volunteering experiences are explored within the community with the intention that the skills learned by this exposure to the community will transfer outside the program setting of the PADDLE Learning Centre.

Through the PADDLE Learning Centre participants are involved and exposed to the community in the following ways:
– Memberships at the YMCA
– Visits to Cassellholme-Home for the Aged.
– Attendance at the Snoezelen Room.
– Grocery Stores
– Movies
– Local Theatre Productions
– Public Library
– Tim Horton’s
– Shopping Centers
– Local Area Museums
– Restaurants
– Home Depot
– Other not-for-profit organizations
– Waterfront, Local Parks

Community Activities Within the Learning Centre:
-Music Experiences
-Therapy Dog Program (St John’s Ambulance)
-Native Drumming Circles

Local and Regional Trips Within Community:
-Bowling and Barrier Free Swimming (Sturgeon Falls)
-Science North (Sudbury)
-Local Points of Interest



“The Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board recognizes the importance of programs for students with special needs leaving the school system after the age of 21. The PADDLE Program is an exciting new program initiated by the parents of children with disabilities. These parents wish to have their children continue in a program that promotes, educates and encourages independent living. Our Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee looks forward to helping and assisting in the transition of pupils to the programs that continue to promote students in becoming life long learners.”
– Barbara McCool, Chair of SEAC

“The PADDLE Learning Centre has been a great addition to our community specifically given its commitment to providing ongoing support and learning to adults with developmental disabilities. One Kids Place (OKP) Children’s Treatment Centre is pleased to support this program, as it is a great resource for the many young adults who require ongoing assistance and support as they transition from high school to the adult services sector. “
– Judy Sharpe, Executive Director, One Kids Place – Centre for the advancement of child and youth development

“As the Director of the Near North District School Board, we have the distinct honour of housing the PADDLE program in one of our secondary school buildings. The establishment of the program at Chippewa Secondary School has had tremendous positive impact for all the school staff and students through the partnerships and by the sharing of space and resources.” “This program means a great deal to our young disabled adults and families of this community.”
– Heli Vail, Director of Education, Near North District School Board

“The “Pilot Project” offers a creative opportunity for families wishing to extend the educational, social and recreational interests for their sons and daughters beyond their high school years. Individuals would participate daily once again in an active program built around their needs. They would have the chance to renew old school friendships and develop new ones – the same as any young graduate would do.” This “Pilot Project” offers another choice to individuals within a community where choices are limited. It truly works towards the goal of learning becoming a lifelong experience for individuals with disabilities in the North Bay area.”
– Catherine J. McCallum, retired Special Education Teacher, Secondary Integrated Program.

“In our community, there is a sorrowful lack of mandated services to support the needs of young adults with severe disabilities, programs are overcrowded, and waiting lists are long. Without adequate supports, these young people are spending their days mostly at home, without the benefit of involvement in the broader community. This “Pilot Project” offers a local solution to this unfortunate and unhealthy situation. The program created by this group of parents provides a place for their sons and daughters to go, with regular activities that will promote continued health – physically, cognitively and socially.”
– Fran Couchi, Chair, Community Partners for Autism Spectrum Disorder

“I would like to add my support for the pilot project proposed for a Day Program using Individualized Funding Dollars to meet the needs of severely disabled adults when they leave the school system. I applaud the initiative it has taken to develop a proposal to provide a service that is so desperately needed. Having a safe and friendly place for families, support workers and those in need of the service to gather would certainly provide the opportunity for severely disabled adults to be as productive as possible. The transition from school to the community is a difficult one in the best of circumstances. Everyone deserves the opportunity to make this transition as easy as possible and the pilot project proposed would provide the necessary option for those with severe disabilities.”
– Anthony Rota MP, Nipissing-Timiskaming


“I like being able to use the internet and print pictures I like. It is nice to have people to teach me how to use the internet by myself. I like PADDLE because I got to meet my friend Peter and do things with him and also bug my new friend Kayla.”
– Chris Caruso-Student Age 21 –

I like how I make my announcement and welcome everybody to Chippewa High School every morning. Hanging out with my friends is a lot of fun. I have some old friends and I made some new friends. Everyday we make lunch and I really like the food we eat, Today we are making pizza and you can’t forget that dipping sauce. At lunch time we listen to music.

– Shawn Venasse

I like seeing my friends everyday and having great conversations with them to start my day and I also like to do my chores. I like walking to the YMCA to go swimming and helping prepare lunch – the food has been great. Today we took a tour of the school and saw the gym and library and that was fun. Later on in the afternoon we will be meeting a therapy dog. I’m looking forward to when we can go to Cassellhome to hear some singing, I really enjoyed that before. So far I’m really enjoying the program and can’t wait to do more fun and exciting things.

– Bryan Ceppetelli

Dylan Craig letter