Inclusive recreation

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About Inclusive Recreation programs

The City of Ottawa’s Inclusive Recreation unit helps individuals with disabilities to take part in community recreation, whether it be through specialized programs or integration in standard programs or the Shared Care program.

Support persons

People with disabilities are welcome in all City of Ottawa recreation programs. Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services is committed to welcoming and supporting people with disabilities who are accompanied by a support person. If a person with a disability is accompanied by a support person, Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services shall ensure that both persons can enter Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services programs, services and facilities together and that access between them is facilitated. If a person with a disability is not accompanied by their own support person, Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Inclusive Recreation staff may request or recommend that the person with a disability provide a support person if it is determined that a support person is necessary to protect the health and safety of the person with a disability or other.

Contact a coordinator in your district for more information on accessibility policies and procedures, and to receive a Release for Support Person form.

Registration information for summer camps

Before registering

  • View the summer camp choices and ensure timely registration for both the camp and Shared Care one-to-one support (as applicable). Programs fill up quickly, so if unavailable, join the waitlist.  
  • For more details about the registration process, see Browse and register
  • Please note: 
    • Shared Care support is a two-step process. Register first for the camp and then register for the Shared Care one-to-one support coinciding with the weeks of camps and the district in which the camp is located. 
    • Referral-based programs – like Spirit or Rock, Rattle, and Roll – require an assessment by our Health Programs coordinator. Spaces are based on availability.

After registration

  • Inclusive coordinators will reach out to registered participants before the camp begins.
    • An intake meeting may be arranged at a nearby recreation center. Criteria and individual needs are discussed to ensure proper fit and accommodation within our summer camps.
  • Forms and requirements – Complete enrollment forms, including medication and trip forms, for all our camps.

Video - summer camps - frequently asked questions

My name is Christina McCormick. I'm with the City of Ottawa in the Parks and Recreation Department within Inclusive Recreation.
What summer camps does the city offer for people with disabilities?
We have integrated camps as well as more specialized or adapted camps. Within our integrated camps we have shared care support for children with disabilities to help them integrate in our summer camp programs. They can take up to two weeks of camp and they would register into the regular camp setting as well as the support.
We also offer what we call support the mentor support. The mentor would come around to each camp to help with the more mild to moderate children who have disabilities kind of integrate into the camp. So an example of an integration might be a reward system, or if they're used to reminders, making sure those are in place. The other option as well is if you have a child with a special with a disability who has their own support worker, there are always welcome to come to camp
What about specialized or adapted programs?
We have a program for children with complex needs, the Spirit program, which is a referral basis. So you would contact your inclusive recreation coordinator to register into that camp to make sure it's a good fit. We also have our Rock, Rattle and Roll for adults with more medically fragile needs as well. We also have our summer plus program. We have up to five camps across the city of Ottawa. We have also a sixth program in French and that's for adults with developmental disabilities where they go out into the community. They do some different activities throughout the day, just like a regular camp, but more in a specialized environment with specialized staff. We also have our social recreation camps specifically at Hintonburg Community Center. They also have camps there for adults with disabilities.
Which camp is right for you?
Reach out to the inclusive coordinator in your area to, you know, to set up a meeting, possibly talk to you over the phone and try to figure out what the best camp is.
It will depend on the specific disability of the individual. It could also be specific to age as well as the criteria. So ensuring it's the right fit for that person. The other thing you can do is reach out to the email below to get more information. Ensure that you have enough information about the camp. We do have descriptions of the camp, so please make sure to read those over, but we're always willing to help, if you have any questions.
How can the participants needs be accomodated within our summer camps?
Once registered, you would get a phone call or an email asking to set up an intake.
With that intake, we would meet at a recreation center close to you. We would go over the criteria for the program. So we would go over the criteria and ensure that it's the right fit for your participant, whether it's an adult or a child. We go over the needs of the person. Every individual with a disability that is different and they have different needs, such as everybody does. So just reviewing their needs, what works well at home, what works well at school. So that way we can try to incorporate it as best we can within the summer camps.
So you can actually start viewing the summer camps on January 2nd. As far as shared care goals, please remember that it's important to register for the camp of your choice as well as for the shared care support. The other piece too, is that our programs do fill up quickly. It's important that if you aren't able to get in to put yourself on the waitlist and let the inclusive coordinator in your area know that they're on the waitlist. Once you are registered, the inclusive coordinator person in your area will contact you. You can also reach out to them as well to set up that intake to ensure it's the right fit for your participant. Also, just to note our Spirit and our Rock, Rattle and Roll program, they are actually by referral. So if you are interested in either of those programs, please reach out to the coordinator and they can walk you through that process.
Are there forms to fill out before the participant can start camp?
We would also ask within all of our camps we have enrollment forms. We would get those all filled out so you wouldn't have to worry about those kinds of things as well as if they take medication and if there's trip forms as well. The other thing too, is if you're already registered into the program, an inclusive coordinator would reach out to you before the camp begins. Luckily, this year we're registering fairly early, so it'll be good to get all that information ahead of time. So the more information that you can give us, the better and it'll be more successful. But for the participant within the program.
Is there financial assistance available?
We do have our Ottawa Hand in Hand program, which we offer within recreation for low income families as well as people who are on ODSP. We also have the Play Free
initiative that we're continuing with, as well as the overall 10% discount for some children's summer camps.
Tell us more about the summer camp staff at inclusive recreation.
When we hire the staff, we ask that they have an education in a related field. So it could be that they're working towards their psychology degree or they're in the developmental service worker program or the autism program. or the Child and Youth worker program. So we hire staff who have that kind of education. We also hire staff who have experience working with children and youth or adults with disabilities in camp setting in school settings. We also provide them with crisis prevention, intervention training.
We ask that all staff come with a recent vulnerable sector police record check and we provide onsite training within the camp, as well as our own Inclusive Recreation training.
What can participants expect from their summer camp?
So of course it depends on the camp that you choose. So if it's more specialized or adapted versus inclusive,but overall, most camps will have group games. We might have some craft or art activities as well as physical games. A lot of the camps do as well go swimming. They may go on a community outing to a museum or park. You might have special guests come to us. So maybe having a magician on site or someone to sing with us, or do Zumba, whatever the case may be.
What if I wasn’t able to register for a City of Ottawa summer camp?
So what we do is we compile a resource list of all the camps within the region of Ottawa, so we have some pretty close relationships with them. And what we do is we can offer the families or the caregivers a list of those resources so they're aware of other camps that are are possibly close to them that would work better for the participant or that might work in tandem with with our city programs. So just to know that's out there, you can always reach out to your inclusive coordinator within your district. You can also again, you can contact the email below for inclusive recreation, and we'd be glad to send you some resources of other camps as well.

The City of Ottawa’s Inclusive Recreation unit provides specialized summer camps tailored for individuals with disabilities and supports integration within all camps offered by Recreation Cultural and Facilities Services. Here is an overview of the programs, support, and processes available to help make a smooth summer camp selection and experience. 

Choosing the right camp

The options below are designed to ensure an inclusive and enriching experience for all participants. After reading this information, feel free to contact Inclusive Recreation for more help determining the most suitable camp. Age, specific disabilities, and other criteria will influence the selection.

Integration into camps
  • Shared Care support for children with disabilities allows them to fully engage and successfully integrate into the summer camp of their choosing. Children can be registered to receive one-to-one Shared Care support at no additional cost for up to two weeks in the summer.  
  • Inclusive Mentor support is also available at all camps to facilitate the integration of children who may not require full one-to-one support but can benefit from customizations such as reward systems or reminders.  
  • Participants with their own support workers are welcome to join.  
Specialized programs
  • Explore our Spirit or Rock Rattle and Roll programs, designed for children, youth and young adults who are medically fragile or technologically dependent. They are available on a referral basis through your inclusive recreation coordinator.  
  • The Summer Plus camp for adults with developmental disabilities is available at various locations across the city, including one French program.  
  • Social recreation camps are also hosted at Hintonburg Community Center.
  • Detailed descriptions of summer camps offered by Inclusive Recreation are available on Register Ottawa.
Other considerations
  • Financial assistance – Aid is available through the Ottawa Hand in Hand program and Play Free initiative, along with a 10% discount for selected children’s summer camps.  
  • Summer camp staff – Our inclusive camp staff are qualified with education in related fields and experience working with individuals with disabilities. They undergo crisis prevention and intervention training, possess recent vulnerable sector police record checks, and receive inclusive recreation training.  
  • Expectations from summer camps – Depending on the chosen camp, participants can anticipate group games, craft activities, physical games, swimming, community outings, and special guest appearances.  
  • Other specialized camp options – If unable to register for a City of Ottawa summer camp, we provide a resource list of other camps in the region that may align with your needs. Reach out to your inclusive coordinator or contact Inclusive Recreation for assistance.

Shared Care one-to-one support

What is Shared Care?

Shared Care is a program that provides individual integration support to children with disabilities, helping them to successfully participate in their chosen camps. An integration support worker will help to guide them through their days at camp, lending a hand or guidance as needed.

  • Shared Care is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Register for Shared Care and complete an intake assessment soon after registering for a camp or PA Day-camp and well in advance of the start date.
  •  A maximum of two weeks of Shared Care support per person is available for summer camps.

Intake assessment

The Inclusive Recreation coordinators can help with any questions you have about Shared Care. Making us aware early in the registration process will help our coordinators best support your child. Let us know of any diagnosed or undiagnosed cognitive differences or behaviours your child may have.

If your child has integration support at school, they will likely need it at City of Ottawa camps. If you are at all uncertain, please reach out.

How to register

Registration for Shared Care support is a separate step to be done right after registration in City of Ottawa camps or PA Day-camps. 

For general information about registering for City of Ottawa programs, see Browse and register.

Before you begin:

  1. Review the camp districts to find the facilities within your home's district either east, west, south or central. If uncertain of your home's district, reach out Inclusive Recreation by email and they will help you.
  2. Log in and search for a camp within your home's district in Register Ottawa, the City’s online registration system.
  3. Bookmark those of interest.

Register for camps or PA Days and for Shared Care:

Online registration in Shared Care is a two-step process:

Step 1. Register for camps or PA days:

Browse and register your child in a camp or PA Day and note the following information as it will be needed during the next step:

  1. The program’s district, either east, west, south or central. 
  2. The five-digit code that is near the top of the listing and to the right of the session. This is the program’s “activity code.”
  3. If registering for summer camp, note up to two weeks during which you will need Shared Care support.

Registration in the camp or PA Day is complete when you have paid the registration fees. 

Step 2. Register for Shared Care:

After you have registered into a camp or PA Day, you can then register online for Shared Care, in the district that aligns with the camp. 

  1. See the list of Shared Care districts and program dates on the Register Ottawa site
  2. Find and register for the Shared Care program that matches the dates and district of the camp to which you have registered.

Important information: 

  • Registration for Shared Care is complete only after you have registered online using the activity code.
  • Contact the Inclusive Recreation Coordinator for the district in which you’ve registered for Shared Care, east, west, south or central, after you have registered for Shared Care, to complete an intake assessment or update paperwork as needed.

Specialized program descriptions

All ages

Private swim lessons

Please reach out to your preferred City of Ottawa aquatics facility to inquire about private swimming lessons.

Adults ages 18+

Variety Adult Day Program

The Variety Adult Day Program is a therapeutic recreation day program for adults with developmental disabilities ages 21 to 55 years old. Participants are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities including sports, games, cooking, swimming, crafts, and community outings. There are six locations across the city, including one French program. Referral for the program is only made through Developmental Services Ontario, and not through the City of Ottawa.

Acquired Brain Injury program

The City of Ottawa and Ontario Health offer this goal oriented, therapeutic recreation day-program. This program focuses on developing skills needed for independent leisure involvement, connecting with community resources, and improving overall quality of life. Programming includes a fitness component and the opportunity to meet 1:1 with a Recreation Therapist bi-weekly.

Contact us for more information by email or phone 613-580-2424 extension 29320.

Summer Plus

This is an interactive therapeutic recreation summer camp for adults with developmental disabilities. Participants will be encouraged to participate in a variety of activities such as sports, games, cooking, swimming, crafts and outings. An intake meeting is required prior to the start of program for new participants.

Social recreation programs - adult

Social recreation programs are offered in various facilities across Ottawa for individuals who have a developmental disability. One example is our Friends for Fun social recreation program where adults participate in various group activities.

Rock, Rattle and Roll

A fun summer camp for individuals requiring physical and or medical support. Participants may be required to bring a support person.

Youth - ages 13 to 17

Spirit

The City of Ottawa and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) offer this therapeutic recreation program for children who are medically fragile or technologically dependent. Referrals are made only through Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Social recreation programs – youth

Social recreational programs are offered to youth in various locations across Ottawa. For example, the Social Time program provides recreational games and physical activity for youth with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Children - ages 5 to 12

Inclusive Swim Colours Yellow

Swim lessons for children with developmental or cognitive disabilities. Builds on motor skills, communication, socialization, and survival skills in an aquatic environment. Two weeks prior to participation and on a yearly basis, participants must complete the following; enrolment form with appendix A, Inclusive Recreation intake form and in-water assessment. Parents are required to remain on site for the duration of the lesson.

Inclusive Swim Colours Coral

Swim lessons for children with developmental or cognitive disabilities. Builds on swimming skills, motor skills, communication, socialization, and survival skills in an aquatic environment. Two weeks prior to participation and on a yearly basis, participants must complete the following; enrolment form with appendix A, Inclusive Recreation intake form and in-water assessment. Parents are required to remain on site for the duration of the lesson. Completion of Inclusive Swim Colours Yellow is required.

Summer camp locations for Inclusive Recreation

East

Central 

South 

West 

Contact us

Schedule a telephone meeting with our staff

Please call the Inclusive Recreation coordinator in your district or send an email to the general mailbox:

  • East District: 613-580-2424 ext. 29300
  • Central District: 613-580-2424 ext. 29292
  • South District: 613-580-2424 ext. 29291
  • West District: 613-580-2424 ext. 41226
  • Health Programs: 613-580-2424 ext. 29320

Scheduled payments

For payment information or help, please contact the Inclusive Recreation Admin Clerk at 613-580-2424 ext. 29283.

Feedback

Clients will have the option of providing feedback using the following methods:

  1. By phone: 3-1-1
  2. In person: the client can go to any RCFS customer service counter and speak to the City of Ottawa employee.
  3. In writing: the client may leave a written comment in a Client Comment Box. These boxes are available to the public in all Recreation Facilities.
  4. By email: RCFSAccessibilityServices@ottawa.ca

Comments specific to accessibility issues can be provided by email to RCFSAccessibilityServices@ottawa.ca