Nearly 60 years ago families had to plow hard ground to find ways for the sons and daughters to find belonging in the community, in schools and even within families. These pioneering families found little pieces of success among many struggles. They connected to other families and found that sharing their pathways to success made it easier for others to follow. Their vision created innovative community-based supports and services that performed well at what they were created to do. But they were only stepping stones to what real community engagement truly is.

Families created Inclusion Lethbridge (then LACL) as a collection point for the wisdom and experiences to be shared, and their grassroots innovations for inclusion would be passed on. This organization was founded on the values that every person has an important contribution to make to the community and that that contribution can best be made on an inclusive pathway with the knowledge that families are the most invested in good outcomes.

We have always seen and embraced the whole person, the whole family, and the whole community. We do this by resisting categorization based on disability or assessment and segregated participation over a lifetime. It is well documented that the meaningful engagement of diverse populations enhances the wellbeing of society and in turn the well being of all. Inclusion Lethbridge holds this responsibility to our community in the highest regard.

The families of Inclusion Lethbridge hired staff to have an unwavering commitment to family leadership and to uphold their deep conviction that no disability precludes full citizenship.

Our work and structure lead us to all corners of the community without limitations or conflicts of interest. We work in partnership with all stakeholders because finding belonging cannot be achieved by engulfing people in services. We work to make fundamental changes in the lives of citizens with developmental disabilities.

Our Mission, Vision, and Values


Our mission is to advocate for and support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families/guardians so they can live:

  • as valued citizens,
  • free of discrimination,
  • enjoying all rights, responsibilities, and benefits of citizenship.


Every person can live and participate in the community lifelong.


At Inclusion Lethbridge, we value the whole person, the whole family, and the whole community. We believe that the more diverse and welcoming a community is, the healthier it is.  Everyone belongs.

Funded services can be a support to individuals striving for a rich meaningful life in the real community but to be effective these services need to be directed by the individual or their family.




Inclusion Lethbridge's journey began with a group of parents that had a vision for their son or daughter to live, learn and play as valued or at least accepted members of the community.

They had been told by medical professionals, Social Workers, Educators and others in the community that their children needed to be sent to institutions and forgotten.


Dorothy Gooder was convinced that all students should have the same opportunities. She believed innovative, creative teachers could be found and asked to adapt the way they taught.

Parents initiated a pilot project to have their children in a classroom to demonstrate that kids with disabilities can learn and teachers can teach.

School program established for six students by parents and volunteers. The first class was in Kintown Clubroom School.The Lethbridge and District Associated for Retarded Children was organized.


This group of parents and enlightened citizens form the foundation of Inclusion Lethbridge and formally incorporate the organization on July 16, 1957.


With volunteer dollars and government help, Dorothy Gooder School was built for 50 studentsThe organization helped build the school named it after parent and visionary Dorothy Gooder.

The school was segregated, but not because she wanted it to be. It was because Ron, her son, could not get into the neighbourhood school. Dorothy started the school as a demonstration that learning was possible. She successfully proved her point!


First “Flowers of Hope” campaign in Lethbridge.


School enlarged to accommodate 60 students, many from the surrounding district.


As families were drawn to the school from outlying areas parents realized that some students needed a place to stay during the week to ease the need to commute long distances every day. This was the forerunner to residential services in Lethbridge.


  • Dorothy Gooder
  • William Stanton
  • Roy Whitfield
  • Beth Sweitzer
  • Dave Roberts
  • Jake McCallum
  • John Thackray


As students graduated school they needed employment opportunities so they started the greenhouse and garden known as Sunrise Ranch. This gave rise to more vocational services and supports.First Executive Director of the Inclusion Lethbridge, Len Wright, was hired. In 1973, he moved to Edmonton to take on the responsibilities of the Executive Director of the Alberta Association.

The first Auction was held at the Lethbridge Exhibition Park. Families raised $1475.

The Lethbridge Association coordinates transportation for family visits to and from Michener Center.


Oliver House I is opened as a children’s residence. This was helpful to families who lived outside of Lethbridge. Their children could attend Dorothy Gooder during the week and the return home to be with their families on the weekends.

First Greenhouse built at Sunrise Ranch to serve adults who needed vocational services. As students graduated from Dorothy Gooder School, parents allowed themselves to move onto the next step and allowed Lethbridge School District #51 take over the running of the Dorothy Gooder School.


Name changed to Lethbridge Association for the Mentally Retarded (LAMR).

Woodwork program started at Sunrise Ranch.


Second  Greenhouse completed.

Social-domestic program began at Sunrise Ranch.Oliver II residence completed.


Com-Serv concept promoted for comprehensive Community-Based Service System with families running services and fundraising.

Malcolm Jeffreys was Executive Director of Inclusion Lethbridge.


Lethbridge became the first Experimental and Demonstrated Com-Serv Project in Canada for the next five years.

Bricks and mortar services are turned over to agencies. LACL (LAMR) continues monitoring, advocacy and advocacy and advisory role.

LAMR turned over operation of all facilities to Com-Serv Board.

LAMR now able to concentrate on support programs for people with developmental disabilities.

LAMR developing monitoring and advisory task forces to safeguard the quality of services provided.

The Parent to Parent Support group began.

Family and volunteer training and development were extensive as informed connected families proved to be the most effective advocates.


Tom Cain began as Executive Director of Inclusion Lethbridge.


  • Nina Kuzyk
  • Joyce Dunlop
  • Betty Anderson
  • Anna Penner


The Com-Serv project came to an end and had demonstrated the benefits of community living, planning centered around the person and conscientious service coordination.

Much was left to be done to develop needed services and a “true-system” to accomplish this.One key principle emerged with a great clarity for the Association: to center all planning and services provision around the needs of the individual being served.

Southern Alberta Community Living Association established to create homes.

Citizens Resource Centre for the Handicapped developed to continue coordination.LAMR continued to be strong support and advocacy organization.


Inclusion Lethbridge aggressively promoted the repatriation to the community of all individuals living in institutions.


Celebrated our 25th Anniversary.


24-hour planning seminar for “people with complex needs.”


At the request of people with developmental disabilities, self-advocates and their families, LAMR changed its name to The People First Association of Lethbridge.

Dorothy Gooder School closed as a segregated school. The community had learned that kids with and without disabilities enhance each other’s school experience.


At the request of people with developmental disabilities, self-advocates and their families, LAMR changed its name to The People First Association of Lethbridge.

Dorothy Gooder School closed as a segregated school. The community had learned that kids with and without disabilities enhance each other’s school experience.s.


  • Joyce Dunlop
  • Ken Newton
  • Bill Secretan
  • Anna Penner
  • Betty Grigg
  • Myrtle Wilson


University of Lethbridge co-sponsored “Classroom as Inclusive Community” course.

Dr. /Father Patrick Mackan moves to Lethbridge.


“Kids Belong Together” video wins prestigious CabPro Award.


Families and individuals push for more choice in services and this leads to the opportunity for Individualised Funding for adult services.


Named changed to Lethbridge Association for Community Living (LACL).Sibshop Conference


Numerous Public Meetings about government budget cuts.

AACL starts “Family Conferences.”Helped to facilitate the start of Friendship Series Bible Study at Barb Michealis’s home.


Safeguards Seminar to Prevent Abuse and/ or How to Deal with Abuse (led to different types of abuse being reported and dealt with.)


Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks (PLAN) initiated at Inclusion Lethbridge. Four pioneering families start.


Safe and Secure book was published.


  • Mary Hyder
  • Janet Ross
  • Barb Nish
  • Miriam Ciarciaglini

Inclusion Lethbridge. Made with love in 527 6th Street, Lethbridge, AB.

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