Barbara Roblin

Barbara Roblin brings joy and learning to a very special group of Ottawa students. As the Director of Education for the DragonFly Programme, Barbara helps learners with Down Syndrome develop their math and literacy skills through dance and other dramatic arts.

Through an innovative partnership with The School of Dance, DragonFly encourages self-esteem and pride in its students, while at the same time helping them to develop the skills they will need to succeed in everyday life. For her commitment to equal access to learning for all in Ottawa, Barbara Roblin is one of #150GreatPeople. Here, she answers the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

Ottawa is a unique city, a capital of the country with all the pomp and circumstance that entails, home to civil servants, high tech innovators, diverse ethnic groups and outdoor enthusiasts. This mix of ingredients creates a city with a point of view all its own. The many faces of Ottawa, its size, its snow, its proximity to the natural canvas of Ontario, make it a great place to live.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

I have lived in Ottawa for the last 30 years. In that time, I have been a teacher, a parent and co-founder of DragonFly, developing and delivering one-of-a-kind programmes for learners with Down syndrome. I have found the growing innovative climate of Ottawa, and its family-friendly size provides fertile ground to address the social change so necessary to keep Canada moving forward as a progressive global force.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

I believe that giving back to the community and being a force for positive change are the highest goals of individual freedom and choice. Our collective futures rest on our abilities to create equal access to good learning opportunities for all. Everybody deserves the chance to develop their full potential as a person, as a contributor to our economic prosperity, and as a citizen of Canada.

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

I am proud of making a difference in the educational opportunities for individuals with atypical learning patterns. I am the co-founder and Director of Education of the DragonFly® programmes for learners with Down syndrome at The School of Dance. We create learning opportunities and offer effective, evidence-based academic and dance programs for this marginalized population. DragonFly supports families facing the challenges of raising an atypical child, supports teachers to create best practices in our schools, reaches out to new Canadians who have moved here believing is it the best opportunity for their child, and dialogues with our politicians, presenting them with a vision of how to make Ottawa and Canada a better place to live.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

As we move forward in this century, it is time to rethink institutions and their purpose, and to embrace change. I would love to see Ottawa become a hub for innovative, inclusive education theories and practices in Ontario and in Canada. Together we can create education for the 21st century and I would like to see Ottawa become a national and global leader in innovative educational programming.

Photo credit: Laura Marrongelli