New Programs

New September Programs Launching!

What is Checkered Door Academy?

Checkered Door Academy is a program in Barrie that serves local Youth and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities and Social Communication Difficulties, who are planning for the transition to adulthood. We provide an array of programs and services to participants and families requiring support to enable youth to take a significant role towards preparing for life outside of the school setting. Through supervised facilitation, social interaction, and positive reinforcement, we focus our group sessions on social skill development, executive functions, and self-regulation, as key areas for growth.

Goals of the Program

Participants will increase independence and develop skill competencies in the areas of functional life skills, self-determination and self advocacy. To achieve these goals, staff strive to provide a holistic approach to life -long learning by offering educational opportunities in key areas such as:

Enable youth with barriers to self determine goals and plans

Facilitate social development and engage in group learning

Learn and practice techniques of emotional regulation

Develop functional skills that increase independence

Foster positive peer interactions and character traits

Participate in life experiences with community partners

Participant Outcomes

All program offerings and service packages aim to improve the quality of life and social engagement for youth and young adults with social barriers in our community. The learning activities, assessments, and practical outings, all have consistent overall outcomes for all participants.

Social Skills Development

In supporting participants in the development of Social Skills, Checkered Door Academy staff will use Social Thinking® Methodology created by Michelle Garcia Winner. The program modules will offer structured social learning activities, derived from Social Thinking® Curriculum, which can be applied to group activities in the classroom, at home and in community settings. Social Thinking® is a term coined by Michelle Garcia Winner, CCC-SLP and represents a flexible, systems-based teaching methodology consisting of curricula, vocabulary, teaching tools, and strategies for individuals aged preschool through adults. Learn more at At Checkered Door Academy, a sample Social Thinking® application activity would be to observe social interactions using Social Behavior Mapping© therefore increasing understanding of expected and unexpected behaviors in community settings.

Note: This program, including its teacher or leader, is not affiliated with, nor has it been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by Michelle Garcia Winner and Think Social Publishing, Inc.

Executive Functioning for Life

While at Checkered Door Academy, participants will learn strategies that build executive functioning skills.

This component of the program focuses on problem solving, self-advocacy, making plans and organizing tasks to completion. Developing executive functioning skills for life enables participants to become more self-aware, adaptable, and equipped as individuals, who gradually increase their independence into adulthood. To support learning these cognitive functions, participants will engage in topics such as; asking for help, disclosing needs for accommodations, managing personal devices, and being flexible with changes in routines or plans. Using evidence-based models for organization and planning support for task completion, goal setting and self assessment. Checkered Door Academy uses a Person Directed Planning Approach and one to one connection time to ensure participants are actively motivated by attainable goals, that result in success for each individual.

Emotional Regulation

Participants will benefit from continuous training on the Zones of Regulation®, A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control, by Leah M. Kuypers, MA Ed. OTR/L. Assisting individuals to identify emotions and develop the appropriate skills to self-regulate is key to maturing into an emotionally healthy adult. The curriculum uses evidence-based models for organization and planning, support for task completion, goal setting and self assessment. Individuals will participate in learning activities in a small group format and practice/transfer the learning to various environments.

Exercising and listening to music
October field trip sitting on haybale


We promote student resilience within our daily exercises by concentrating on developing key character traits that build self-confidence, encourages flexibility, mutual respect, and perseverance. At Checkered Door Academy, we believe that every individual can contribute to sharing space with others in a positive manner. By facilitating and modeling the values of good character and resilience, participants are stimulated to create social networks built upon making a positive contribution in their homes and in the community.

Fostering inclusion unlocks the potential in us all!

Peggy Crane

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