Niagara's Connection to Life Empowerment Services

Benefiting Children, Youth and Adults with Autism & Special Needs and Seniors 

With growing populations we are putting forth an effort to create a lasting legacy of Lifespan supports and services for Individuals and families that address the unique challenges they face at each stage of life. We provide community connection, inclusion and development opportunities. We aim to be a part of, and spark a global solution leading by example a bridging service to minimize wait times, maximize opportunities for growth and development, health & wellness  while reducing the financial barriers so many face in accessing crucial, timely and necessary services. This seed money will increase the hours we are open, develop programs and services that meet the needs of communities and allow us to keep our doors open to serve even more Individuals and families in need. It takes a village, we need your support to continue our work. You too can join with us in building this legacy for future generations. We need you! Will you join with us today? 

Our facility benefits people in the Niagara Region and we get visitors from  outside of the Region to access our services. We can benefit so many more. Currently Bridges Support Services is developing a service model that potentially could be used in malls and other setting types across Ontario and beyond. We also  have expanded our programs and services to in home services and into the surrounding communities and in the near future aim to extend our services to seniors, Individuals with autism and individuals with varying special needs.  The goal is to build a strong and lasting platform for everyone in the community no matter age, race,  economic background or disability.

In order to make this happen, we need funds for the following:

1.  Unique Multi Generational Facility & Equipment Upkeep

Currently we have a 24,000 square foot facility at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, with the means to provide our clients with Life Empowerment Services in the following areas; rehabilitation, recreation and leisure activities, social skills,  life skills and vocational skills.  After school programs for school age children & youth with Autism and varying disabilities, Programs for at risk children/youth and seniors. Our Shop n Mind Service is new and inclusive to all children.  We invite Schools to join us, where children can be themselves, be with their peers and not have to worry about anything except having fun. They can now take a trip out to enjoy the services we offer. We extend our services and space rental opportunities to organizations needing a space for their programs and/or staff training. With recent expansion of our services we now offer care for seniors at home, hospital & long term care facilities with Personal Care, Dementia Care, Companion & Respite Services and Home Support Services. These services are inclusive to Adults with disabilities and families with Children/ Youth with Autism and varying disabilities.

2. Snoezelen Room - A sensory based room
What is snoezelen? It is a controlled multi-sensory environment is a therapy for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia or brain injury. It consists of placing the person in a soothing and stimulating environment, called the "Snoezelen room".  The set up we would like to implement requires specialized equipment.

Recreation & Therapy Equipment
In 2020, we would like to add to our existing workout equipment by purchasing 1 more treadmills and 1 recumbent bike.  Additional mats and 2 adaptive tricycles, one for children, one for adults. Other goals include but are not limited to: board maker for communication for those who have limited or no verbal ability, communication device, 1 computer for training and vocational skills.

Adaptive Equipment

What is adaptive equipment? Adaptive equipment are devices that are used to assist with completing activities of daily living. Bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and feeding are self-care activities that are including in the spectrum of activities of daily living (ADLs). 

In order to aid our participants, adaptive equipment is extremely necessary and our facility needs to be all encompassing and a place where all people can feel comfortable in their mobility.

Additionally we provide a Senior Program a base for members to host social events and recreation & fitness focused activities. This would help in their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Our goal is to be Niagara's Connection to Life Empowerment Services and Solution to Senior Wellness and Support. We can't do this without the support of community. Any contribution no matter how small is truly appreciated as it gets us one step closer to maintaining our service model for years to come. Without you, we would simply be just another Not-for-profit organization having to close it's doors.

 Driven by passion and dedication, the Co-Founders of Bridges Support Services have made many sacrifices and have been volunteers since 2015 reinvesting program funds and personal funds back into developing this service model putting clients/participants  and their staff first.  Below you will find their story.

Our Story

It is November 4, 2013.  My wife and I find ourselves in Niagara Falls, at our sons Specialist appointment. He is 2 ½.  And today is the day that the doctor is going to reveal what is happening with our son.

Our son is an easy child. Relatively quiet, non-verbal and loves to line things up. From cars to trains and everything in between, he isn’t content unless it was in a row. Going out in public is  very difficult. Meltdowns, screaming fits, frustrations  describe his behaviour in public. What was causing our sweet and quiet child so much angst?

Autism… That was the word that came out of the doctor’s mouth. As you can imagine the flood of emotions that came about crowded my thoughts and worried my heart to the core. What does Autism mean for the future of my son, the future of my family?

It is November 28, 2014. Putting fear and worry aside, I got to work with my wife by my side. We decide to embrace this new challenge with an open mind and open heart. Pooling all of our resources; mental, physical and financial, the process of envisioning starts to commence and the first ideas for Bridges for Autism are hatched.

Raising money and awareness has now become the bane of our existence. A passion to share and learn with others, this struggle to understand our son and how he views the world. But how do we create awareness? How do we create a safe space for those struggling with Autism? A hub for families to go and talk. A way to build a community with a shared common interest.

It is April 11, 2015. 
Family Fun Festival becomes our first major success. Cosplay superheros such as Batman and Superman make an appearance sharing photo opts with adoring fans. Three petting zoos feature lemurs and exotic creatures from around the world. Pony rides bring giant smiles while the gleaming chrome of First Responder vehicles dazzle the spectators and spark the dreams of children.  As a thrill to those who are older a custom bike show brings out the child at heart with a surprise appearance of the NHL Bike.  The Toronto Maple Leaf Alumni team take to the ice playing a 3-period, 60 minute game verses members of the community. A fundraiser to support Autism, a year in the making has been a success raising thousands of dollars to support the Autism Community at large and leading to the implementation of our Board of Directors.

It is July 16, 2015. Officially we are a Not-for-profit Organization.  This is really happening. Dreams are coming true and our well thought-out ideas are coming to fruition and our team is building.

Building... that is the next step in our journey. A place to call home.

It is August 22, 2016. It all started with a phone call that sparked an interest, that opened a door, that gave us the means to procure a facility. A 24,000 square foot facility. A facility we needed to make Austism and special needs friendly. A project that would give our son and many others like him in our community a place to learn, grow and develop life skills for the future.  A place where children of all abilities are welcome including those with no diagnosis, with activities open to the general public. 

It is May 10, 2017. Today is the day that we open our doors to the public and share our vision with the community. This is the start..

It is Spring 2019.  Today we register a name that reflects the populations we serve and have expanded our services to and the direction we are heading moving forward. The registered name is Bridges Recreation, Learning & Support Services Niagara.  (Bridges Support Services) This is a division of Bridges For Autism Inc.


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Allan Dobbin 
Saint Catharines, ON
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