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Ozanam Centre

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This month we’re profiling one of the longest-running projects in our Royal Oak village—the Ozanam Centre! Going strong since 1982, the program has adapted and maintained a friendly space for those who need support with community inclusion. A large building with bright, sunny rooms equipped with computers, TVs, and art supplies, the Ozanam Centre is a welcoming place to spend time.

Named after Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul, the Ozanam Centre operates a Community Inclusion Program for those with intellectual disabilities. Pre-Covid, it hosted up to 50 participants daily with the help of around 20 staff. During Covid we’ve downsized a little, but most participants are returning. We have safety protocols in place to keep everyone safe. 

A large room with several empty tables and chairs. Lanterns are strung from the ceiling and there is art on the walls.

The Ozanam day begins at 8:30 in the morning when participants start arriving by Handi-Dart bus. They’re greeted by staff and engage with their group. After a mid-morning coffee break, the groups participate in a variety of activities until lunch, which is followed by more activities. At 2:30 in the afternoon, participants begin to pack up and get ready to head home.

So, what kind of activities do the Ozanam participants do? A lot of them are out in the community. When possible, groups go bowling, dancing, or swimming. They also volunteer at places like our Social Concern Office, the Beacon Hill Petting Zoo, and the James Bay Community Centre. Groups go on walks or hikes in the area when the weather is nice. Ozanam has five vehicles that help us get participants involved with things outside of our buildings.

Three men, one of whom is in a motorized wheelchair, are walking along a sunny road wearing safety vests and masks.

As for activities inside Ozanam, there are a lot to choose from. Arts and crafts, drama, and an adaptive X box with controllers   are familiar favourites for participants. We also have a “Snoezelen Room,” a sensory space that features a reclining chair, lighting effects, a projector, and a stereo. It allows participants to relax while experiencing pleasant sensory effects that are tailored to the individual.

The vision statement for the centre is key: “We strive to help people move from dependence to independence to the best of their ability.” Staff work hard to make sure that participants have fun but also expand their horizons and integrate them into the community. Participants set their own goals with the help of their key worker and choose from a list of  activities that will help them achieve their goal. 

A "Snoezelen Room" with tall glittering tubes in front of a mirror. Blue dots shine on the walls from a projector. There are two empty chairs and a black wall panel covered in tiny dots of light.

Other projects that operate in our Royal Oak location include Rosalie’s Village for women and children, Mary’s Place Daycare, a community garden, housing for seniors, and our Administration offices. We also operate the Social Concern Office in downtown Victoria and two thrift shops in Langford and Tillicum. Further, there are conferences of Society members who do good in communities all across Vancouver Island. If you want to learn more about any of our projects, let us know!

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