Froggie Connection

    No, we’re not talking about Kermit the Frog, although – like Kermit - our Froggie is a dreamer, too… someone who wonders about rainbows and what’s on the other side.

     “Doctor Froggie” is the nickname that young patients gave to Dr. Arlette Lefebvre, a visionary child psychiatrist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, who founded Ability Online back in 1990.  She saw the social isolation that her young patients faced as a result of chronic hospitalization and physical limitations, and she dreamed a dream of a different environment where they could just be themselves. 

    In her dream, she saw the potential of the Internet – just then emerging – as a force for good in the lives of those with disabilities. Dr. Froggie recognized that, truly, in the online world there are no disabilities.  Everyone is equal.  When you’re sitting at your computer, it’s a level playing field with anyone else sitting at theirs… and that can be a boost to one’s confidence.

    What started as a primitive bulletin board system in the early days of the Web, is now a robust online community that reaches out to many thousands of young people with disabilities and illnesses.  After more than 30 years, it has a proven record, and a treasure chest of stories about helping its members develop the communication skills and confidence they seek to manage all areas of their lives and integrate fully into their communities.

    Michelle McClure, Recreation Therapist at what is now known as Holland Bloorview Children's Rehabilitation Hospital, joined Arlette on day 2 of the pilot project. Working with teens with head injuries, Michelle incorporated Ability Online into her clinical practice, to help her clients cope with their "new reality". Michelle was on the Board of Directors until 1999, when she left Holland Bloorview to become the Executive Director, a position she has held for 22 years.

    Ability Online article 1994