Joanne’s Story Connection: From Near and Far

Ausome volunteer Joanne grew up in Ottawa, being active on the field and in her community. She played many sports, including rugby, snowboarding and hockey. She also volunteered and gave back to many organizations, a value her mom taught her at an early age.

During her undergrad in Nova Scotia, Joanne discovered a way to combine both by volunteering with a swimming program for individuals with autism. She loved it!

After returning to Ottawa in 2018, she stumbled across Ausome Ottawa – the perfect opportunity to continue to “help kids get active!” Always with care and exuberance, Joanne has volunteered at a staggering 13 different Ausome sports programs, plus camps and events. “I love [the athletes’] energy and the little things that get them excited. It’s cool seeing their progression and improvements.”

She loves to celebrate each athlete’s accomplishments, whether big or small. Her favourite program has been Obstacle Adventure. She recalls one day in particular when the Ausome athlete she was buddied-up with was initially afraid to climb up the wall. But with a bit of encouragement from Joanne, that athlete mustered up the courage to scale the wall and were both “so excited!”

Joanne has continued to spread that Ausome energy well beyond Ottawa’s borders. When COVID-19 hit Canada in early 2020, she was travelling in Peru. She had signed up to volunteer with an organization that works with kids with autism and other disabilities. Her many volunteer hours at Ausome helped her feel “prepared, with the skills to jump into that role.”

When Joanne hit a roadblock trying to figure out how to help one individual, she knew where to turn. From over 6,000 km away, she connected with Ausome’s Director of Programs, Alix, who provided her with expert advice. Alix also set up Joanne and her other team members with a virtual training session packed with helpful tips. Success! Joanne and the team were able to implement a picture communication system that better supported the individual with their daily life activities and school work.

Joanne has since returned to Canada to pursue her master’s degree in rehabilitation science in physiotherapy out west. She was sad to be moving so far away from Ausome and the athletes she has come to love. But, wait! This story has a happy ending.

Through our virtual programs, Joanne has continued volunteering from the other side of the country. From virtual fitness to basketball, she remains connected with our Ausome athletes and community…even if it does require her to wake up at 6:00 am on weekends. Now that’s Ausome commitment!

No matter where life takes her, the values her mom instilled in her to give back, her passion for sports and her connection to Ausome go with her.


Written By:
Anya Pelot
Programs & Volunteer Coordinator