The Rowan Tree Collective is a privately funded not for profit organization serving families of young adults with autism and other exceptionalities who have completed their secondary school education.
To provide social and recreational opportunities to young adults with Autism and other developmental disabilities in an inclusive and welcoming space that fosters friendship, belonging and a sense of community.
To build a strong collective of neurodiverse members who have a sense of belonging in our community.
The Rowan Tree has a long and sacred history. Since ancient times people have planted Rowans beside their homes. Known as the Tree of Life in Celtic mythology, the Rowan Tree symbolises courage, wisdom and protection. In North America the Rowan is commonly known as a Mountain Ash.
A collective is a group who shares or is motivated by at least one common issue or interest who work together to achieve a common objective.
Each Rowan Tree Collective opportunity is designed to target one or more branches in our Rowan Tree. These branches represent aspects of daily living necessary to living a meaningful life filled with dignity, pride and enjoyment.
The FUN category! This area will be participant driven. Expect things like movie nights, dance parties, video gaming, art classes, BINGO, puzzles, games etc. We cannot wait to celebrate with seasonal activities like Halloween and Christmas parties.
Neighbourhood walks, fitness class, healthy food choices – all things designed to keep us healthy and well! We will encourage overall wellness and good self-esteem in a non-judgmental and inclusive environment where friends and positive affirmations are in high supply.
Programs that will get our participants out in the community, engaged in volunteer activities, taking neighbourhood walks, practicing environmental stewardship, and getting an increased understanding of the city and the world around us.
Cooking, cleaning, working as a team, safe food handling, serving food, eating food, sharing social space while we eat food – it can all happen here. All programs will have a focus on community safety, emerging independence, friendship, good manners, and respect.
We think everyone can be proud of pitching in. There are no shortage of potential community partners and no shortage of opportunities within the Collective itself to have our members skills shine in employment and volunteer capacities.
Renée has spent more than 20 years in the health care field before joining the Rowan Tree Collective to fulfill a long-held ambition of building something beautiful and meaningful for the autism community. Inspired by her son Noah, Renée’s dreams of a life filled with purpose and belonging for Noah and his peers drives her commitment and determination in making the Collective a successful one. Renée is a true Northerner originally from Kapuskasing, she’s made Thunder Bay home for the past 18 years. She is very family oriented and enjoys camping and supporting her kids in their athletic pursuits. Over the last few years Renée has enjoyed the pursuit of self-discovery through different mentorships. It is her hope that this knowledge will help her lead the participants in their own journey of growth while enrolled at the Collective.
Michelle has been driven by a desire for equity, inclusion and community building in her career and in her volunteer work. Building a safe, nurturing, and welcoming space to provide positive day programming has been a dream for Michelle and her husband Paul since their son Rowan left high school. Michelle has a background in psychology and has worked to provide support and programming for individuals with autism in schools, community, and clinical settings. Michelle’s family is at the heart of everything she does, and this inspires her love of cooking, photography, and travel.
Paul has had a long and rewarding career in software development. He is a dedicated and proud dad with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for tech who is excited to be building something new and rewarding for the special needs community. Originally from England, Paul enjoys exploring the outdoors of Northern Ontario and likes to spend time camping, fishing, and hunting.
Ayla is a free spirit who loves to help people develop to their full potential. Working as an advocate and ally in the developmental services sector for more than ten years, Ayla enjoys working to nurture passions, skills, and friendships. She is a kitchen aficionado and throws herself heart first into baking and cooking adventures. When she is not in the kitchen or the classroom, she loves to be wild and free exploring Northern Ontario with her soul dog Skylar as they sled, bike, hike, and paddle through life together.
Noah and Rowan are long time school chums. They brought their families and others together on a journey of advocacy and determination to help ensure that kids with autism and other special needs can live their best lives! The shared vision of these families is the roots of the Rowan Tree Collective and drives our commitment to providing the very best programming we can offer.