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Whitby-Ajax MPP, Christine Elliott, talks to ParentSource about her vision for the Abilities Centre, and how a community of volunteers is helping to make it a reality.

Christine Elliott wears many hats; she’s a mom, wife, business owner, and a member of parliament, but in Durham Region, she’s also a community leader for special needs.


Christine lives in Whitby where she is raising triplet fifteen-year old boys with her husband, Whitby-Oshawa MP and Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. Although life with both parents in politics is a busy one, being there for her kids’ soccer games and school activities is a priority, so, like most moms, she’s become a good ‘juggler’.


Children and community are very important to Christine Elliott, and it’s reflected in the time she dedicates to her volunteer work as a Director with Grandview Children’s Centre, and her leadership as the co-founder of the Abilities Centre.


The Abilities Centre, which is scheduled to open in Whitby in 2008, will be dedicated to providing world class services and programs, including sports, recreation, and performing arts facilities, for adolescents and adults with special needs.


The original concept for the Abilities Centre came from Minister Flaherty, who, seeing a need for such a facility in the ever growing Durham Region, organized a steering committee of volunteers to move the idea from a vision to a reality.


Every person working on the Abilities Centre project is a volunteer. The entire project really shows what a community can accomplish when they work together. According to Ms. Elliott, over eighty community groups have been consulted on the Centre, so it will be representative of the services and programs residents truly need.


The Abilities Centre aspires to be an “international centre of excellence” for the provision of services and programs for special needs. Christine believes it will “bring Canada forward as a world leader” in the development and delivery of such services. Not only will it provide medical services and programs, but because it will be linked to the Iroquois Park Sports Centre, people will also have an accessible pool, and the opportunity to watch a hockey or a lacrosse game when they visit.


 In addition, the centre is placing a strong emphasis on the arts, with a stage to showcase the many talents of its clients. Christine is quick to point out, however, that equally as important as programs and services, the Centre will be server as a meeting place, where people will have the opportunity to socialize and “to feel connected to a place where they belong”.

 For more information on the Abilities Centre, contact Christine Elliott's office at 905 430-1141 or visit her website.