Local charity hopes for new, inclusive facility for Calgarians of all abilities

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Inclusive facility for Calgarians of all abilities; local charity’s vision
WATCH: It's a dream a Calgary charity hopes will soon be a reality. The group, that provides programming and resources for people of different abilities, is in desperate need of an upgraded facility. Jill Croteau reports on the vision for the Vecova Centre for All Abilities – Oct 28, 2022

Aimee and her 85-year-old father Pat have been using Vecova’s programming for barely two months and they both say they have seen a profound difference in their lives.

Vecova is a charity that offers programming for differently abled people in Calgary.

Aimee and her father Pat. Jill Croteau/Global News

“We are happy,” Aimee says. “I ask him in the car after he is finished at Vecova, and he always says, ‘That was a lot of fun.'”

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“I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Pat says.

Aimee has been caring for her dad as he navigates life with dementia. They’re involved in the dementia care program at Vecova.

Pat and Aimee dancing in Vecova’s atrium. Jill Croteau/Global News

“This is keeping me healthy and keeping my dad living with me,” Aimee says. “I see him thriving.

“The whole reason I wanted him living with us is quality of life, and this enables him to live with vitality and respect.”

Kyla Martin is Vecova’s chief development officer. She says Vecova is in need of more space and better access.

Kyla Martin. Jill Croteau/Global News

“There’s over 2,000 Albertans approved for services that are currently on waitlists — the majority are between the ages of 20 and 34,” she says.

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Vecova’s current building is over 50 years old and showing its age. What was required in the late 1960s is now outdated and the space needs to evolve.

Vecova. Jill Croteau/Global News

“People with disabilities need a centre and a centre that is 100 per cent inclusive to everybody and all abilities and shows no bounds,” Martin says.

Vision for exterior. Supplied

Vecova has approached all three levels of government for possible funding and is looking for community donations to help build a new facility on the existing property.

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Artist rendering of inside new Vecova Aquatics Centre. Supplied

Vecova says it needs $122 million to make the idea a reality.

“Disability is the only minority group you can enter at any stage in life, whether its through surgery and you need rehabilitation, or as you age,” Martin says.

“Services need to be available for people who need them.”

Jo-anne Willment suffered a stroke in her 30s and credits her recovery in part to Vecova’s aquafit program.

Jo-Anne Willment uses the pool weekly. Jill Croteau/Global News

“Sometimes I register two mornings, sometimes it’s been three,” Willment says. “It’s a terrific opportunity for me.

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She is also grateful for the community within the walls of the building.

Jo-Anne Willment. Jill Croteau/Global News

“I have friends here from a number of years. We have nurses, a biologist, an accountant — and these people are quite exquisite,” Willment says. “There is a whole range of people helped by Vecova.

“We desperately need a new facility. We need to have something for the differently abled.”

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