Latest News

Latest News

Go Play! Connecting Youth to Leisure.
April 20, 2015

“Jooay,” a play on the French word “jouer” (to play), is an interactive, user-friendly app that offers information about nearby physical...

Latest News


Go Play! Connecting Youth to Leisure.
April 20, 2015

“Jooay,” a play on the French word “jouer” (to play), is an interactive, user-friendly app that offers information about nearby physical activities, music classes and art classes tailored to a child’s special needs. Parents can browse through activities by category, by keyword or by disability type. They can add new activities and connect with other families through discussion boards. The application also includes a GPS, allowing any user in Canada to access a list of activities indexed from closest to furthest away.

The app was developed by a team of Occupational Therapists at McGill University. More than a location device, “Jooay” is intended to encourage social interaction among children with disabilities, and to enhance their quality of life.

“We want to create a positive community, promoting leisure and facilitating leisure, so that the kids who are doing activities in the same area can connect and meet people,” says Shikako-Thomas. For more


Cineplex Opening Doors For Special Screenings
February 9, 2015

Cineplex Entertainment is launching a special screening program for people with autism spectrum disorder and their families. The Canadian movie theatre company says its Sensory Friendly Screenings will include 2D projection, increased auditorium lighting, lower volume and smaller crowds. Theatres will also allow families to bring in outside food and take a break from screenings in a nearby "calm zone."

Cineplex says the screenings will take place in select venues on select Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., before theatres open to the general public. titles and booking information will be announced on up to two weeks in advance of each screening. The program was developed in concert with Autism Speaks Canada.

Participating theatres include:

  • Scotiabank Theatre Halifax (Halifax)
  • Cineplex Cinemas Langley (Langley, B.C.)
  • Cineplex Odeon Sunridge Spectrum Cinemas (Calgary)
  • Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton Cinemas (Edmonton)
  • Cineplex Odeon Centre Cinemas (Saskatoon)
  • SilverCity St. Vital Cinemas and XSCAPE Entertainment Centre (Winnipeg)
  • SilverCity London Cinemas (London, Ont.)
  • Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo (Waterloo, Ont.)
  • Cineplex Cinemas Mississauga (Mississauga, Ont.)
  • Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan (Vaughan, Ont.)
  • Cineplex Odeon Morningside Cinemas (Scarborough, Ont.)
  • Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas (Ottawa)




Protecting Our Tomorrows
April 29, 2014

Portraits of Meningoccocal Disease, by Anne Geddes. Protect. Nurture. Love. These three words have served as Anne Geddes mantra and inspiration throughout her 30-year career as a photographer. 

This project has been made possible by her partnership with Novartis Vaccines and the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO). The Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease series is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness among parents regarding the threat of meningococcal disease and the importance of its prevention. Meningococcal disease is a sudden, aggressive illness that can lead to death within 24 hours of onset. Babies, toddlers and adolescents are the most vulnerable, with infants under 12 months of age at greatest risk. Unfortunately, many of those who do survive are often left with life-long complications, such as brain damage, learning disabilities, hearing loss and amputation of limbs.

The 15 survivors featured in this project are from many different countries and cultures. For more on the project from Anne Geddes and to download your free e-book.

Anne Geddes Portraits of Meningoccoccal Disease

Anne Geddes Portraits of Meningococcal Disease

New Kids Book Teaches about Differences
October 29, 2013

A vibrantly illustrated picture book, "I Am, Too!" is the story of six friends, three who have disabilities and three who do not, and the fun they have sharing their favorite activities with each other!

I Am Too Book

Corona, Calif.-based author Jennifer Hendrick Davies has catapulted her professional experience with children and adults with special needs into an exciting new children's book. With illustrations by Burbank-based illustrator Lena Rose, "I Am, Too!" is published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform and is for sale on and other online retailers.

Readers will have fun with six unique characters who just love sharing their favorite activities with each other! "I Am, Too!" serves as a powerful learning tool for parents and teachers alike, showing kids that we have far more similarities than we do differences. Already finding its way into classrooms and libraries, "I Am, Too!" is a must-read for children ages three to six. Its message of acceptance and friendship will resonate with both children and adults. Find on under children's books, keywords "I Am, Too!"

Swimming with Winter
September 14, 2013

Amputee Cieran Kelso, 8,  fulfilled his dream of swimming with Winter the tail-less dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida. Cieran was obsessed with Winter after seeing her in the movie 'Dolphin Tale.'

After losing both his legs to meningitis when he was just one, Cieran also uses custom-made prosthetic flippers to swim.

Libby and The Cape of Visitability
August 7, 2013

The first children’s book on Visit-ability has been launched! Libby, Aria and Benjamin have been best friends since they were babies. Now Aria has moved to a new house. Libby, who uses a wheelchair, doesn’t get invited to Aria’s birthday party because the house has barriers. Hurt feelings follow.

Libby Book CoverThen the kids meet Everett, an adult wheelchair athlete, who tells them how the disability rights movement gained successes through years of public demonstrations and pressing for laws. Everett shows them a photo from the 70’s showing people with disabilities blocking inaccessible buses.

The kids are inspired to create their own version of public action to achieve the goal of a step-free entrance and wide bathroom doors in every new house. Learn how the kids get on the front page of their hometown paper, as their method gets them in trouble -– and how they achieve a sweet victory. "Libby and the Cape of Visitability" is the diary of Libby, a KWD (Kid with Disability).

Written for children ages 8-13, this book raises awareness of the exclusion created when houses are not built with simple features that allow mobility-impaired people to visit or live in them. For those grownups (teachers, parents and others) who engage in meaningful dialogue with children, this book provides not only a captivating story and relatable characters, but a Reader's Guide with discussion questions and resources as well. Written by Eleanor Smith, a housing rights worker, and Nadeen Green, a teacher, writer and blogger on the topic of fair housing.

You can find and order Libby for your Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, iPad, etc., in numerous online outlets, including AuthorHouse ( just type the title in the box at the upper right), for Kindles and desktops, and for Nooks.

Team Ari! "Yes We Can"
July 7, 2013

“Yes we can cross any finish line!” says Kelli Tanghe, a proud mother of three, and her 12-year-old daughter Arianna (Ari), who has cerebral palsy and a visual impairment. In September 2012, upon entering Middle School, Ari expressed her desire to “race with mom” and compete in sports just like her athletic older brother and sister have done their whole lives.

Kelli, a Boston qualified marathoner and ultra-marathoner, decided that she needed to act on making her daughter’s dream a reality. With that… Team Ari was born and Kelli pushed Arianna in her first 5k race in her wheelchair.

Since that first race, Kelli and Ari have been running together as a dynamic mother/daughter racing duo. In order to push Ari with more ease, Kelli now uses an adaptive running chair for all of their races.

To date, they have completed 5ks, 10ks, half-marathon, and marathon events. They are currently striving to complete 13 half-marathons in 2013 to celebrate Ari becoming a teenager. It is their mission to encourage individuals with disabilities to participate in running events.

What Kelli did for her daughter is inspiring and what they are now accomplishing together as a team for others is extraordinary. Go Team Ari!

Learn more about Team Ari and connect with them on their blog.

Team Ari


President Obama says Everybody Plays
February 7, 2013

The Obama administration for the first time is telling school districts across the USA that they must give students with disabilities equal access to extracurricular sports, a move that advocates say has been years in the making. In a letter to schools, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter of the Department of Education says schools should provide "reasonable modifications" to allow special needs students to participate – for instance, providing a deaf track athlete with a flashing light that goes off simultaneously with the starter pistol that others hear.

A+ gradeHe said schools don't have to radically alter games or stop choosing the most qualified athletes for competitive teams. They can look to “allied” or “unified” sports teams, in which students with disabilities participate with students without them. Schools can't deny a student with a disability a slot on a sports team because a coach believes he can't compete.

Schools that don't comply risk losing federal funding, but civil rights cases rarely get that far. “We think it's huge,” said Kirk Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports USA, a national non-profit group established by Vietnam veterans that offers sports rehabilitation programs to anyone with a permanent disability.


Special Shoes by Molly Taylor
October 16, 2012

Molly Taylor babysat Emma while her mother worked. She often read Cinderella to Emma and both Molly and Emma felt that the story didn’t speak to them. After an unsuccessful search to find books targeted for children with physical challenges, Taylor decided to write her own, just for the little girl,Taylor took it upon herself to write Special Shoes, a book that shows moments from Emma’s life with her family. And the little girl wears braces and uses a walker just like Emma!

Special Shoes Molly TaylorSpecial Shoes was published this summer, and it’s a beautiful book that allows Emma to feel like the princess that she is. The illustrator used pictures of Emma to make the illustrations and now Emma reads the story every night and gets to feel special.

Available online at (24 pages; ages 6-10; $8.99)


New Book, Social Rules for Kids
July 17, 2012

"What's up?" the cover says. Social Rules for Kids - The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to Succeed, that's what's up.

Susan Diamond has written an invaluable resource to help any child sharpen their social skils and learn to navigate the social world. Diamond, a licensed speech-language pathologist wrote 100 one-page lesson plans on how to teach kids to navigate daily social interactions.

In her forward, Ann Gordon write, "Some of these children have difficulties because of learning difficulties, some because of autism spectrum disorders, and some because of emotional challenges. What these children share is that they don't know what to do when, what to say to whom, or, in short, how to make and keep friends."

To order Social Rules visit

Social Rules for Kids

Parks Adopt Features for Special Needs
June 12, 2012

Tucked between a baseball field and a performing arts center in Tinley Park in Chicago is a new playground that — quite literally — is designed to level the playing field for children with special needs.

At first glance, McCarthy Park looks like any other suburban playground with its standard red, yellow and blue equipment. But it offers visitors a smorgasbord of well-thought-out features — including a rubberized surface, metal ramps and sensory-activity panels — that make it the first completely accessible playground in the village and, experts say, one of only a few dozen in the Chicago area.

Opened last month, the playground was developed with the goal of creating a space where children with disabilities could easily move around and interact with others.

For more about Tinley Park click here

Accessible Park Chicago

Highest Honours for Meaghan
April 19, 2012

During the recent National Volunteer Week, CNIB congratulates one of its most dedicated volunteers, and a past Play to Podium magazine “cover girl”   for receiving the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers, the highest honour a young person can achieve in the province.

Toronto’s Meaghan Walker, 17, was one of six honourees in a special ceremony held at Queen’s Park by The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Charles Sousa, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Meaghan was introduced to CNIB at age 11 through a family in her neighbourhood with triplet girls, one of whom was born blind. Inspired by the special challenges this family faced, Meaghan not only befriended the family to be of help, but began fundraising for the CNIB. Meaghan’s efforts started small with bracelet sales and lemonade stands and grew as she did – most recently raising $2,000 at a gala organized at her high school.

“The priceless gift of time that CNIB’s volunteers give to our organization and the community we serve is essential to everything we do,” says Linda Goldblatt, Executive Director, Ontario-Nunavut, CNIB. “However, it is a rare and special experience to work with a volunteer as committed as Meaghan at such a young age.”

For Meaghan, the message she wishes to convey is two-fold: to inspire the world to see people’s abilities rather than disabilities and to encourage young people to get engaged in a cause that is meaningful to them.

“Volunteering has been a huge part of my life because I know how fortunate I am,” says Meaghan. “I love seeing people happy – the children and adults I’ve worked with who are blind bring a smile to my face each time I see them accomplish something they weren’t sure they could do.”

Read Meaghan's story in Play to Podium.

Toboganning Safety. Choosing the Right Helmet
January 20, 2012

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter is followed by an increase in visits to hospital emergency departments by young people presenting with head injuries resulting from winter activities, including tobogganing. Fortunately, helmets are known to reduce the risk of head injury; but with so many helmet options available today, which is the best one? Dr. Michael Vassilyadi from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute, together with a research team at the University of Ottawa, put this question to the test.

Currently, there is no certified winter recreational helmet available, so parents use what is available or no head protection at all. This study compared the protective characteristics of three types of helmets, hockey, ski, and bicycling helmets.

The study found hockey helmets offered the best protection for the younger kids. For more visit Play to Podium.

A New Partnership Helps Families with Special Needs Travel
January 8, 2012

Autism on the Seas are dedicated to providing vacation and travel options for individuals and family's living with special needs, including, but not limited to Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and all cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities. They recently announced a new partnership between with CareVacations to further enables families to enjoy a pleasant time together in great destinations.

Autism on the Seas has selected CareVacations as its preferred provider for special needs equipment and products for selected cruise departures, including sailings aboard Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Disney Cruises. Autism on the Seas is the leading special needs travel provider for families living with autism, Down syndrome, other disabilities and/or special needs.

CareVacations provides an essential selection of services for families and individuals traveling with special needs.

“It’s important for families of special-needs kids to know that travel is possible for them,” said Owner and Founder of Autism on the Seas Michael Sobbell. “Our program aims to make vacations possible for the whole family, and CareVacations services are a perfect enhancement to our cruise and accommodation services.”

Poppy Girl
December 13, 2011

After losing her legs at the age of two to meningitis, courageous 10-year-old Lydia Cross has notched up a huge number of achievements. Having already raised over £60,000 for war veterans in the United Kingdom, Lydia was determined to make the most of her recent challenge.

Invited by her local Rotary Club to take part in a Remembrance Sunday ceremony, Lydia’s parents contacted her prosthetist, Bob Watts at U.K.’s Dorset Orthopaedic, to ask if they could make her a special pair of prosthetic legs.

Lydia wanted her prosthetic legs to show-off poppies, the flower used to symbolise lives lost in both wars. The challenge to Dorset Orthopaedic came at the right time. Says Watts: “We had been working on developing a new range of silicone cosmeses called myDesign. The idea was to allow clients to effectively ‘design their own legs’ using their imagination! The idea has gained a lot of interest. We are seeing a growing trend from amputees who want to show off their prosthetics in a creative way.”

Lydia and her policeman Dad and former Commando Tony, met with Watts and one of the lead-artists at Dorset Orthopaedic, Di Pidgely. Taking Lydia’s sketches, Di developed the concept into a final design showing Poppies growing from grass and reaching the sky, a theme that Lydia thoroughly approved of. The next challenge was to translate the design into the prosthetic leg.

Pidgely explains that “it takes considerable artistic skill combined with know-how of working with silicone pigmentation to produce the design. We pay a lot of detail to re-creating a 3-dimensional effect so that the design literally does stand out. We were very proud of the finished result.”

Lydia and her Dad attended the ceremony with the world’s media watching. Lydia's mum, Jodie, who stayed at home, watched the event on television with pride. She said during the event that Prince Charles noticed Lydia and asked one of his aides to find out who she was. She added: "Lydia thought it was an amazing event and she said she felt quite emotional. She looked lovely – particularly with her special legs.”

Dorset Orthopaedic has now launched the myDesign theme on their website. Watts adds, “we have perfected the ability to translate an artistic idea into reality. We want to help other amputees express their individuality. The myDesign concept is absolutely unique and with a brief sketch, we can custom design practically any idea.”

To learn more about myDesign, please visit Dorset Ortho

To see the BBC interview with Lydia, visit

An App that's Going Places
November 28, 2011

For those with disabilities, traveling around the world is a little more difficult if not downright daunting. To find an accessible local business or service is difficult enough, but in a foreign country it is almost impossible – or at least it used to be.

That is until Raul Krauthausen of Germany, a wheelchair user himself, developed a free iPhone app just for that. Called Wheelmap, the app shows wheelchair access places around the world and rates them on their accessibility.

Users can help. Since the app is also linked to the Wheelmap website, gallivanting globe trotters can rate locations on their accessibility and even share tips. While most of the cities are in Germany right now, you can rate anyplace you’ve been – buildings in your local town or those you have traveled to in your state or province. Major cities like London and New York are growing in ratings, but you can put your own city on the map.

You can rate locations without registering, but must log in to add specific comments and share tips. It is still a work in progress, but you can help it grow! Visit the English version of the app at

This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. For more visit

Tis' the Season. Special Needs Toy Buying Guide
November 16, 2011

What toy will be best for my child?  What are the safety considerations I should be aware of?  What features should I look for in a toy? Where do I find toys that will be appropriate for my child? 

These are only a few of the questions often asked by parents, family members, or friends of children with special needs.  Toy buying for a child with special needs can be a frustrating experience.  You want the toy to be right for the child, to be fun, to engage, to promote growth, yet you need to recognize the specific capabilities and challenges that your child faces. This guide helps parents and others understand toy-buying considerations and promote awareness of many of the questions toy buyers should ask and answer before purchasing a toy for a child with special needs.

Visit for tips and advice on buying toys for children with special needs.

Obesity Among Children With Special Needs
November 2, 2011 launches national campaign to raise awareness, end obesity epidemic, publishes guide for parents and caregivers in coalition with Special Olympics and Best Buddies International.

Children with special needs are far more likely to be overweight or obese than their counterparts according to "Finding Balance: Obesity and Children with Special Needs," the second in a series of groundbreaking reports produced by, an online resource and social community for parents and professionals serving the needs of adults and children with disabilities. This landmark report, the first to focus exclusively on how the obesity epidemic affects children with disabilities and special needs, presents not only the extent and causes of the problem, but also offers practical solutions for families and others caring for these children.

"For too long the national discussion about obesity has excluded millions of children who are most affected," says Sheryl Young, CEO of Community Gatepath, the nonprofit organization that created "This eye-opening report and Parent Toolkit will allow parents and others to find the right balance of solutions as they work to improve the health, nutrition and fitness of their children with disabilities and special needs. This report shows there is hope and that it is well within reach."

In collaboration with Special Olympics and Best Buddies International, the country's premier organizations representing those with intellectual disabilities, Young announced that is launching a nationwide campaign that will engage a broad coalition of parents, health professionals, activists and policy makers to adopt and promote tools for healthier, more active lifestyles among children with special needs and disabilities.

"We must all be part of this fight," says Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. "Obesity is not just a health issue – it is a family issue, a social issue and a human dignity issue." produced Finding Balance after hearing for years about the struggles that families faced in their efforts to keep their children with special needs and disabilities at a healthy weight. Food issues, medication side effects, limited mobility and limited access to sports and other active recreational activities make the challenges families face even harder. "Few people understand how many obstacles there are and how few resources on this subject exist," says Young. "We wanted to give help and hope to those who need it most."

Finding Balance brings together in one place, for the first time, information and practical solutions for parents, health professionals and other caregivers intended to address the multiple challenges that are rarely understood. The report highlights various disabilities and their influence on obesity, providing suggested remedies for overcoming those challenges. "This report is a critical guide for making change," says Anthony K. Shriver, founder and chairman of Best Buddies International, an organization that provides opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership training for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "The key is offering opportunities for companionship, recreation and inclusion.

The full report can be downloaded by visiting Ability PathFinding Balance's Parent Toolkit provides strategies and tips for parents to help their special needs child develop a healthy relationship with food, covering topics such as working towards a healthy weight, eating in restaurants, healthy snacking, resources for adaptive and inclusive fitness activities, and more.

Play Ideas for Siblings
October 11, 2011

Sometimes siblings find it hard to know what to play with their special needs brother or sister. Here are a few ideas for fun activities.


  • Make hand shadows on the bedroom wall
  • See who can sit longest without laughing
  • Make newspaper snowballs and throw them at each other
  • Play with balloons – draw faces on them and then play throw and catch
  • Listen to a story tape together
  • Table board games
  • Ball games
  • Word games
  • Balloon games
  • Hairstyling and makeup
  • Toys
  • Dance together

For more great ideas visit