WeAble sees potential in adults with special needs

WeAble — a day facility for adults with special needs — was created by a devoted father’s desire to give people like his daughter a chance to thrive. 

Vahid Ghomashchi’s 20-year-old daughter, Sara, is non-verbal and has a developmental disability. When she finished high school, Ghomashchi and his wife – like many parents of adults with special needs — struggled to find a suitable day program to meet Sara’s needs and provide a safe, stimulating environment where she wouldn’t grow anxious. “She would often be at home crying, inconsolable and repeatedly scratching her mom’s hands,” he recalls.  

WeAble was a labour of love, and now Sara is happier than ever. Ghomashchi opened the facility in Northeast Calgary in late 2018 after pivoting from his career in city planning after graduating from Thrive’s Incubator program – a 24-week course where he developed a business plan to bring WeAble to life. 

Ghomashchi was determined to ensure his facility and its programs would fit the unique needs of the young adults that came through his doors, offering life and employment skill development, occupational therapy, arts, and physical activity – with each component offered in-house and out in the community – both full and 

part-time. 

“Everyone is different,” he explains. “We didn’t want a cookie-cutter solution, we wanted to create something that would benefit their needs and accommodate their interests.” Sara, for example, enjoys making art projects – the brightly-lit program room is covered with her collages, small clay sculptures, and bead necklaces. She also spends time during the week practicing yoga, and her support worker Felicia works with her on sign language to help Sara communicate. 

With WeAble being a new addition to Calgary’s support system, Ghomashchi is eager to bring more new faces into his facility, to provide much-needed meaningful support to them and their families. 

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