As a handicap bus driver and caretaker to a young man in a wheelchair, Barb Woolsey noticed a need that wasn’t being met in the community.

She felt people with disabilities in Airdrie deserved a place to feel included, have fun and make friends – so she created one.

She has been president of the Airdrie Abilities Centre Society (AACS) since 2014. AACS provides athletic and recreational programs to support people’s physical needs, mental health and emotional well-being.

“I’m passionate about this because I noticed that there were people in the special needs community that weren’t connected,” Woolsey says.

“I realized that there were many people in Airdrie who needed to know they were a part of a community. I wanted people to have a place to feel respected. A place to be part of a family, to feel like they are valued.”

AACS is committed to creating equal opportunities to support and demonstrate the strengths and abilities of people with special needs. Some of the activities they offer include sewing, painting, wood working, exercise, theatre performance, cooking and many more.

“Barb creates a safe place for people with disabilities and those who care for them,” says Ashley Leusink, Woolsey’s nominator.

“She just loves people in Airdrie no matter what they may be struggling with.”