History

WDACS was founded in 1964 by a small group of people, including Fred and Joanne MacNaughton and Charlie and Pearl Archer. They joined together to plan education services for their children.  From bake sales to the Flowers of Hope campaign, funds were raised to start a school program for children who had disabilities. It was in 1964 that the Wetaskiwin and District Association for Retarded Children was incorporated as a society.

In 1965, the first classroom was opened in the building referred to as the ‘Old Army Hut’ to educate 8 students. Caroline Shantz and Bessie Sunberg were two of the volunteers that made this dream of education a reality. Four years later, enough funds were raised to open the Lynn Lauren School named after its first two students, Diana Lynn MacNaughton and Lauren Archer. In 1972, responsibility for the operation of the school was transferred to the Wetaskiwin School District. This transfer marked a first in Alberta Education history.

With the first goal successfully accomplished, the Association turned its focus to another need ... permanent living accommodations for some of the children. By June 1972 construction of the first residence was complete and the 8 students who attended the Lynn Lauren School moved in.

The Association’s focus broadened to provide education and living skills to disabled people of all ages. To that end, a workshop and training centre called Horizons Unlimited was opened in 1973. By late 1982, Horizons Unlimited had expanded its career and employment services to such an extent that it became necessary to set up an independent governing body to look after its needs. Today, Horizons Centre and WDACS continue to work side-by-side in serving those with disabilities.

The late 1980’s through the 1990’s saw another major growth period for the Association. Group homes were constructed or acquired at a steady pace until five were in constant use. A number of programs were initiated including recreation, adult education, Lifestyle Options, Family Support and the Connections program for persons with multiple disabilities.

After much growth and a few name changes, the Wetaskiwin and District Association for Community Service (WDACS) continues to benefit from its parents, guardians, and many, many volunteers. From its inception to the present day, the grassroots actions, beliefs and vision of integration and equality continue to serve the organization well. Through the generous support of the community, WDACS is proud to be housed in a state-of-the-art accessible facility.  Over 3,000 different groups and individuals contributed to the construction . The offices and the day program “Connections” moved in and began to use the new facility in January 2002. WDACS continues to employ a capable staff committed to providing the best service possible to our clients and their community.