Summer 2020

Dates to Remember

G.R.O.W. will be closed:

  • Victoria Day – Monday, August 3rd
  • Labour Day – Monday, September 7th
  • Yom Kippur – Monday, September 28th
  • Thanksgiving Day – Monday, October 12th

G.R.O.W. Day Program

A Note from the Executive Director – Sandy Sheegl

On March 20th, 2020 G.R.O.W. changed… We were required to close as the COVID-19 pandemic became be a reality. Difficult decisions had to be made. On April 6th we laid off three staff members. Budgets and reporting required for the province was delayed until June as Day Programs worked through closures. Our audit this year was done virtually, resulting in interesting challenges. Thank you to Natalie who was redeployed and co-ordinated the SIL program. PPE equipment was distributed by Community Living disABILITY Services (CLdAS). By the middle of June, we were informed that the G.R.O.W. in Gimli Program would not be allowed to operate. I used the Zoom platform to touch base with staff and keep them informed, and to see how they and their families were doing, for some in their new role as teacher!

On July 6th we were given the opportunity to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and open our program and bring back the staff. We wanted to act quickly and safely to restore services. G.R.O.W. continues to operate at half capacity daily to maintain the social distancing guidelines. While things look and feel a little different, it is becoming our “new normal”. I am pleased our team is back together and that we have the participants back. While we continue to work on goals, our new priority is safety and the health of participants and staff.

While the everchanging environment can be stressful and the unknown even worse, I would like to acknowledge I was surrounded by incredible support from the G.R.O.W. Board, the G.R.O.W. in Gimli Committee, G.R.O.W. Staff, Abilities Manitoba, and CLdAS (Tammy & Misty).

We are happy to be back, much appreciation to the staff and the participants, for doing a great job and following the guidelines.

- Sandy Sheegl


Photo of GROW participants in a Zoom meeting.

Between March and June, the day program was closed due to COVID-19, however, we continued to offer services daily to all of our participants. Facilitators hosted Zoom sessions with the participants Monday to Friday for 30 minutes, two times a day. These sessions have included educational activities from our curriculum, and engaging activities such as discussions on current news stories, weather reports, and educational games such as Scattergories, Guess Who, Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Trivia. Our staff and participants hosted cooking demonstrations of their favourite smoothies, cookies, and other treats! A big thank you to our facilitators for taking the time to keep everyone connected and to our participants who joined! Many thanks to our special Zoom guests Nick, Martina, Shiva, Erin, Lindsey, and Carmelle. We will continue to offer Zoom sessions until the day program is back to full capacity.


Image of 'Your New Normal' with a rainbow.

At the beginning of July, we were happy to re-open the day program to participants on a part-time basis. The program continues to be proactive with handwashing, limiting exposure, increasing physical distancing, reducing the number of participants and staff in the houses at all times, and monitoring both the health of staff and participants as outlined by Community Living disABILITY Services. We have been limiting our community exposure to outside activities in the surrounding community and practice physical distancing. We will continue to update you around program developments, and keep you informed around any direction given by the Department of Family Services. We have been working with participants on the Getting to my New Normal workbook from Abilities Manitoba which has many tools to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities stay connected to friends, develop new routines, and manage anxieties related to COVID. The workbook can be accessed at the here.

2020 Winter Special Olympics

Photos from the 2020 Winter Special Olympics.

This past February, Rachel, Ryan, and Erica represented Team Manitoba at the 2020 Special Olympics in Thunder Bay. Respectively, Rachel earned the bronze medal in the 400m Snowshoe Competition and placed 4th in the 800m. Ryan brought home a big win in Competitive Floor Hockey winning a Bronze Medal with his team. And Erica brought home a first-place win earning a Gold Medal with her Competitive Bowling team. We are so proud of them... way to go!

Participant Highlight – Kenyon

Photo of Kenyon

When it comes to goal setting Kenyon says, “Try to set goals, if it doesn’t work out as well as you think, try again and eventually you’ll get it.” Kenyon started with longterm goals to live semi-independently and gain paid employment, and at the day program he has learned life skills that include cleaning, community mobility, fiscal responsibility, meal planning, and grocery shopping.

In the kitchen, Kenyon has learned skills & techniques to cook recipes like pita pizza, spaghetti, hamburgers and more, and as he continues to skill-build he passes on his cooking knowledge by teaching other participants to prepare his famous and delicious butter chicken recipe. With continued practice and a positive teamwork attitude, Kenyon proudly details a memorable cooking experience helping another participant; Kenyon explains, “... I really wanted to teach him so that they can learn how to make it independently like me. When you help others in return, they help you back.” Kenyon further explains that he, “...learned how to do laundry and how to clean dishes properly, and at home, I feel like I can do recipes independently. When you move out, the dishes won’t do themselves you have to cook and clean after yourself”. Kenyon is focusing on employment goals and exploring volunteer work with our vocational coordinator. He continues to learn social skills to obtain and sustain employment. Kenyon says, “If you can’t do the small things now (referencing cooking & cleaning examples) then what makes you think you’ll be able to handle the big tasks later in life, like having a paid job and living on your own”.

G.R.O.W. Vocation

Return to Work Plans

Photo of a GROW Participant at work.

The G.R.O.W. Vocational Program is currently working on a return to work plan for our participants. For some, this pandemic has generated some concerns about job stability and personal health safety at work. In preparation for a safe and comprehensive start we are making efforts to implement the education and necessary on-site support for a successful and smooth transition.

Parents will be notified of any return to work dates as the Employers and Volunteer Managers inform our Vocational Coordinator. Should you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact Lucy at or 204-505-3799.

Student Placements

Day Program Students

Photo of GROW Day program students.

Over the winter we welcomed two students, Katelyn Rach and Jessica Kalkat, completing their 8-week Intermediate 2 Placement from the Master of Occupational Program at the University of Manitoba. These two students had the opportunity to educate the life skills group work curriculum, to work one-on-one with participants to achieve individual goals, and to teach creative snack recipes and mindfulness strategies that all of our participants enjoyed.

Education & Research Partnerships at G.R.O.W.

Logo of University of Manitoba

G.R.O.W. continues to offer service-learning opportunities to students in the Master of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Manitoba. This summer we have 4 student occupational therapists working with G.R.O.W. program planners to enrich our evidence-based learning modules and to explore program development opportunities. We are excited to welcome Sarah Brown, Brooke Mitchell, Andrea Mandzuk, and Nick Kehler to the team! The students are working on developing a mental health curriculum for current G.R.O.W. participants and we are exploring offering a Saturday life skills program for individuals not currently attending the day program who need to expand and enhance their current community living skills. Stay tuned for a survey intended to collect your thoughts regarding the Saturday life skills program for individuals.

Family Recipes

Photo of cookies.

We have been encouraging participants and staff to bring in family recipes to share with the group. If there is a recipe you would like to share, please let us know! Below is the featured snack, Energy Bites, from our students... yum!


  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips


  • In a medium sized bowl, stir together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract.
  • Stir in oats until well combined, and then add the chocolate chips to combine.
  • Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  • Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture and form balls.
  • Can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.

G.R.O.W. in Gimli Program

Photo of the GROW house in Gimli.

G.R.O.W. in Gimli was in full swing prior to COVID-19 closures with facilitators hired, COPM assessments completed over Zoom, individual goals created, and groups were selected. Unfortunately, we were unable to spend the summer on Lake Winnipeg due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we will be renting out our cabin for the month of August for summer vacationers! We applied for a grant to cover the cottage expenses for the summer. Thank you to the Winnipeg Foundation! Thank you to all of our participants and dedicated staff! We look forward to seeing you all in Gimli for summer 2021!

G.R.O.W. Outreach Program

We are happy to announce that G.R.O.W. Outreach will start back up for the month of August for G.R.O.W. day program participants only. We will be following COVID protocols with smaller groups and physical distancing. When it is safe to do so we will re-start Outreach for all participants. Keep an eye out for our fall session dates and schedule at the end of the summer. Please reach out to Camille at if you have any questions about the program.

GROWL Pet Treats

Photo of bags of GROWL pet treats.

Now that the day program is open, we are selling our GROWL Pet Treats! We have lots of stock in all of our treats and are happy to sell them at $3 for a bag of cat treats, $5 for a small bag of dog treats, and $20 for a large bag of dog treats. Dog treats are available in two flavours, peanut butter and pumpkin or apple cheddar. Email Camille at to place your order!

G.R.O.W. Supported Independent Living

During COVID closures SIL facilitators continued to provide support to participants in their homes. Participants worked on understanding how to keep themselves and others safe during the pandemic, while also staying connected to family and friends. Participants continued to work on life skills such as cooking, cleaning, home management while also heading outdoors for golfing, swimming, and walking in our many outdoor parks in Winnipeg. Jordan, Dusty, Ryan, Riley, and Akiva gave back to the community by volunteering and dropping off meals to seniors at their homes through the Gwen Sector Meal Delivery Program. We are always looking for SIL Facilitators to provide one-to-one support to our SIL participants in their living space in the community. If you know of anyone who would be a good fit please apply at here.

Please feel free to send a write up or pictures of any adventures you may want to share in our next quarterly newsletter!