Free program for kids with special needs

Two Montreal-based organizations collaborate to offer a support and mentorship program for parents and kids

A former fee-based program for kids with special needs and their parents is now being offered for free and is looking for participants.

Happy Village International is a Montreal-based charity that offers  educational programs so kids with special needs can better integrate into society. One of these is called HAVI Friends, a monthly mentorship program for children with intellectual disabilities and their families. The program was created in collaboration with Ometz, another organization that offers support services and programs for kids, families and new immigrants.

HAVI Friends offers a parents a chance can talk about their experiences of having a child with special needs. At workshops for parents, guest speakers discuss a variety of topics, such as behaviour, socialization, nutrition, financial planning, and more. At the same time, the children with special needs are participating in a one-on-one program with volunteers, supervised by staff. The kids do activities, such as art or music and can get help with homework.

Happy Village founder and President Alli Carr says the beauty of the program is that parents can participate while their kids are simultaneously being offered activities. It also allows parents to ask questions to the guest speakers and experts directly, as opposed to them having to search for answers one their own.

The program was initially started as a fee-based program in 2016 but thanks to collaboration with Ometz and an anonymous donation, it is now offered for free. It takes place on a Zoom platform for the time being, and it seeking parent participation. Under normal circumstances, the sessions would be held once a month for up to two hours. Now online, the volunteer/children sessions happen every week, and the parent workshops take place twice a month. To register for the program, click here.

Happy Village offers two other programs in Ghana.  The HAVI Well project provides fresh drinking water to 9,000 villagers in Penyi, Ghana so the children can  go to school instead fetching water for their families. Educate Our Girls is a program that was started in 2014 with the goal of offering scholarships for girls who have special needs so they can go to school. Happy Village also offers Spanish classes. Eight lessons costs $120 and classes are provided based on your level.

For more information about Happy Village, visit

For more information about Ometz, visit