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Special needs

Services and support

All recreation programs, services and public events offered within the City's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department are open to participants with disabilities, in respect of terms and conditions in department policy.

Note: Should you or a family member wish to discuss individual accommodation please allow 2 weeks’ notice for processing of the individual request. If you have registered online or by telephone you are still required to provide the 2 weeks’ notice. 

Recreation programs for persons with disabilities

Adapted and integrated recreation programs for persons with disabilities

Integrated recreation programs are offered throughout various community centres giving children, youth and adults with special needs, the opportunity to participate in community recreation. 

Shared Care Integration

Shared Care Integration offers a higher level of support to enable children with a special need to participate in a recreational activity or program.

Specialized recreational programs and activities

Specialized recreational programs and activities are offered at identified centres and for various populations and ages throughout the City of Ottawa. Please refer to the Special Needs Guide.

In order to best meet your needs and promote meaningful recreational participation please contact the Special Needs Coordinator in your area so that we can discuss individual needs, provide leisure counseling and program referral. An intake meeting is advised to discuss support needs, program activity and program environment prior to participation.

Please note: You will be required to complete a participant enrolment form prior to the meeting.

Therapeutic recreation programs

Therapeutic recreation programs

The Special Needs Unit offers six Therapeutic Recreation Day Programs for adults with a developmental disability in partnership with Service Coordination and Developmental Services Ontario.

Please Note: Referral to these programs is managed by Developmental Services Ontario. 

  • SCEL contact: 613-863-4009
  • SCEL Central contact: 613-295-2816
  • Variety East and Rendez-vous (francophone) contact: 613-325-6704
  • SCEL West and Variety West contact: 613-798-3291

Contact us

For additional information on special needs and recreation participation, to schedule a meeting with special needs staff or assistance with scheduled payments please contact the Special Needs Program Admin Clerk at 613-580-2424 ext 29283.

  • East District 613-447-3441
  • Central District 613-222-6594
  • South District 613-447-3426
  • West District 613-292-1798
  • Therapeutic City Wide Programs 613-798-3394

All individuals registered in a City of Ottawa Recreational Program are responsible to follow the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment.

If participation in a program presents any serious risk to health and safety a support person* may be required to attend with the participant. *Support Person: is defined, per Section 4(8) Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07, as follows: “a support person means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods

Financial Support – Ottawa Hand in Hand

Recreation & Culture Fee Support

The City of Ottawa offers help with program fees so that all residents can take part in recreation and culture activities regardless of their ability to pay. If you are already a participant in a community or social service agency program, or if you are an individual or family with a low-income, you may qualify for the Ottawa Hand in Hand recreation and culture fee support program.

To apply for the Ottawa Hand in Hand, Recreation and Culture Fee Support:

Step 1: Print the application form at home, or pick one up at most staffed recreation facility or at a Client Service Centre.

Step 2: Complete the application form.

Step 3: Bring the completed application form to your local recreation or cultural facility. A supervisor will review the application for approval.

More information on the fee support program:

  • Residents of all ages are eligible for Ottawa Hand in Hand, recreation and culture fee support.
  • Applications can only be approved at a recreation or cultural facility.
  • Residents are encouraged to apply for the Ottawa Hand in Hand fee support as early as possible before the program registration period. Each qualifying individual, or member of a family, is eligible for an annual amount of fee support ($170 per person).
  • Participants can register for recreation and culture programs or activities at any of the program registration locations across the City.
  • Applicants are encouraged to pay a minimum of 25 per cent of the program cost. A parent or guardian can transfer all, or a portion of their Ottawa Hand in Hand fee support entitlement to a child or children in their household.
  • Applications for Ottawa Hand in Hand, recreation and culture fee support are accepted at anytime.

Community supports, healthcare & recreation

Accessibility design standards & features