Who would you like to meet?
B.Sc.PT (c) - Director, PhysicaL Therapist
Melanie Harris graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science with Distinction in 2000. After finding her passion in Pediatric Physical Therapy in 2004, Melanie found working with kids and their families as her calling. Her career has included the opportunity to work in many different capacities. Melanie has been fortunate enough to work at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, home care, in various school settings, and in-home treatment settings with children from birth to 18 years of age. Recently, Melanie has been providing services in Northern Indigenous communities, working with health centres and in schools.
Melanie is enthusiastic and passionate about her role in helping all kids be active and engaged. Her approach is fun and practical. Melanie’s goal of therapy and intervention is to be inclusive and provide a space and place kids want to be. Her warmth, energy and devotion have earned her a loyal following amongst families she has worked with. Melanie’s philosophy of engaging all kids in opportunities to be active has led her to volunteer her time to many community based organizations. You can find her spending time helping You Can Ride 2 and community groups including Mama Bear Play Club. Her passion for active and confident kids of all abilities and inclusive settings has driven her to work with children with a variety of diagnoses. As a result she has been motivated to complete a number of educational and training courses.
In her spare time, Melanie enjoys running and yoga. She loves spending time with her active family, their dog Stella, and cheering on her three kids in their various activities.
CEO, Physical Therapist
Director of Finance, People, and Culture
Director of Program Development and Delivery
Director of Clinical Services
AIDES AND CHILD
Speech Language Pathologist Assistant
Child Development Facilitator/ Behaviour Coach
FSCD Intake Coordinator & Physical Therapist/Occupational Therapist Assistant
Customer Service Coordinator
Kinesiologist & Marketing Assistant
HOW ABOUT YOU?
We are always looking to expand our team.
Are you a fun therapist, psychologist, developmental aid, assistant or facilitator?
“There are a great many things that fill my bucket, but my heart is at its fullest when I get to share my time and energy with others.”
Alex loves spending time with his wife, friends, and little furballs. He has spent the last decade working in several different healthcare environments within Alberta Health Services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Supportive Living, and Addictions and Mental Health. Alex’s bread and butter has been working with individuals who have mental health concerns and concurrent disability.
Alex graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in socio-cultural Anthropology, along with additional coursework in the fields of sociology, communication sciences & disorders, public health, and psychology. All of his formal education has emphasized the importance of taking a holistic approach to understanding what makes people tick. He continually strives to incorporate this way of thinking into his own practice when approaching behaviour.
Over the years he has worked with and supported individuals who have a wide range of mental health diagnoses, as well as both physical and intellectual disabilities. Alex has training in Behaviour Modification, Positive Behavioural Support, Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, Trauma Informed Care, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.”
I graduated from Bond University in Australia with a Doctorate of Physiotherapy in 2013. I also hold a Bachelors of Physical Education specializing in Sport Performance from the University of Alberta in 2009. Upon returning to Canada I found my passion working in Pediatrics at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital where I have worked since 2014. I have worked with a variety of age groups, in both individual and group settings in a variety of services.
My goal of therapy is to help children and families achieve their goals using a functional approach and finding creative ways to explore ways for children to be as independent with their mobility while having fun. While also encouraging the right type of fitness for each child and their family.
Outside of my day job, I am the jumps coach for the St. Albert Track and Field club where I use my knowledge in fitness, exercise and sport to help athletes achieve their goals on the track.
When I am not working or coaching, I love being outdoors hiking and fishing during the summer months. During the winter I try to travel as much as possible experiencing new cultures and countries.
Andrea comes to us with a Bachelor of Education (2001) from the University of Alberta and an interdisciplinary Masters in child and youth mental health (2015) from the University of Calgary. She has worked with children and youth from ages 2-18. She is passionate about supporting families and educators in understanding how social-emotional development impacts mental health and behaviour.
Andrea has worked in a variety of settings supporting children and youth with behavioural difficulties. She has worked in schools, homes, and with the government, building capacity in the area of complex behaviour. She has recently joined the FUNctional Physical Therapy team which provides therapy services including physical, occupational, speech language, and behavioural.
Andrea believes in a holistic approach to supporting children, youth, and families. She has extensive knowledge in understanding behaviour, trauma, and mental health. Her practical approach knits multiple strategies into a functional plan developed in collaboration with the team. Her goal is to help families and educators understand how behaviour is a form of communication and how environment impacts behaviour. Her family-centered, clear, practical approach empowers families to address behaviours that may influence their ability to live life fully. Andrea has an inclusive philosophy and believes all children and youth belong.
In her spare time, Andrea enjoys spending time with family and friends. Living a healthy meaningful life is of utmost importance to Andrea.
“Where ever you go, go with all your heart!” – Caley McElwain’s motto for life.
Caley connects whole heartedly with people and values each person that walks into her life, whether it be family, friends, colleagues or clients. She has always shown a keen interest and curiosity in working with children and people of all ages. At the age of 16, she started teaching and coaching soccer camps. Soccer has been a large part of Caley’s life – she played varsity soccer, trained with the National Training Centre and played on various women’s major league teams.
Her passion for movement and connecting with people lead her to complete an undergraduate degree of Physical Education with a concentration of Adapted Physical Activity. She went on to complete her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alberta.
For the past 7 years Caley has worked in Early Childhood Services for Sturgeon Public School Division as an Occupational Therapist. She consults, coaches and collaborates with teachers, educational assistants and families to increase children’s capacity to be as independent as possible in their school and home environments. Caley has recently started to sprinkle her creativity with families and children around varying communities with Functional Physical Therapy. It’s the children and students Caley works with on a daily basis that brings her joy!
Other joyful interests/activities include: traveling, food and coffee, learning, moving, and sharing moments and memories with family and friends.
Candra graduated in 2002 from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (honours with distinction).
Candra’s interest in working with children with special needs began early in her university career when she was pursuing a degree in Adapted Physical Activity Studies from the University of Regina. During this time, Candra also volunteered with Special Olympics- track and field, an adapted swimming program for children with complex disabilities and coached children’s wheelchair basketball.
Since that time, Candra has worked to gain the expertise and the competence necessary to provide high quality, family centered care for each of the families that she works with. Over the past 8 years, Candra has worked with Children’s Rehabilitation Services in Camrose, Alberta. In this role, she has been fortunate to work in home, school, community, and clinic settings with children ages 0-18.
One of the innovative projects that Candra has been able to be involved with is the development and implementation of a Paediatric Equipment, Wheelchair & Seating clinic. She currently is the lead therapist for this travelling clinic, which enables families to receive services in or near the community in which they live. She continues to collaborate with other therapists on this project in order to develop the use of technology to provide remote access to the service for even more families.
Candra’s philosophy for her practice focuses on the belief that every child has the capacity to learn and grow no matter what challenges they may be facing. Relationship and trust with both the child and their support system holds high value in her professional practice. Her energy, advocacy, strong communication skills and focus on having fun have gained appreciation among the families she has worked with. More recently, she has been given the beautiful opportunity to parent her daughter with special needs. This has provided her with a unique perspective of both parent and therapist, particularly as it relates to inclusion in all settings.
Candra’s motivation to provide quality services to her families is a perfect fit with the team at FUNctional Physical Therapy. Her desire to be a lifelong learner as she moves forward with her career in physical therapy is evidenced with her completion of many educational and training courses.
Outside of work, Candra enjoys reading, music, travelling, staying physically active and spending time with her family.
Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Assistant
Diane has been working with adults, youth, and children for over 25 years in various settings including home, workplace, classroom, and community. She has learned so much working with individuals 2-92 and their families to maximize potential, growth, and independence through a holistic and person centred approach. She has had the opportunity to work with children from diverse cultural backgrounds in Canada and abroad. Diane worked as a Therapy Assistant for Parkland School Division for 10 years and prior to that worked in adult services as a residential service coordinator.
Diane loves to plan fun activities that allow kids to be active and engaged. She has led many group activities for children and adults in the school and community setting. She has worked as a volunteer coaching Special Olympics and the Glenrose Hospital as a puppeteer educating school kids about inclusion. She also spent 2 years volunteering at a children’s home in Zimbabwe and worked for a program for children living on the streets.
In her spare time Diane loves to be outdoors, hiking, paddling, or just reading. She is an avid traveller and loves exploring new places.
Kara graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, Master of Physical Therapy in 2011, receiving the award for best overall clinical proficiency in her graduating class. Kara has spent the majority of her physiotherapy career specializing in pediatrics. She has worked in a variety of multi-disciplinary settings, assessing and treating children of all ages, in the following areas: developmental delay, pre and post operative care, head shape/torticollis, toe walking, spasticity/abnormal muscle tone, gross motor delay, generalized weakness, and much more. She has worked with children of varying diagnosis’, including rett syndrome, orthopedic disorders, cerebral palsy, juvenile arthritis, movement disorders, brain injuries, strokes, muscular dystrophies, genetic and/or metabolic disorders, spina bifida, and prematurity.
Kara also has experience in the areas of orthotic management, wheelchair and specialized seating systems, pediatric equipment including manual/power wheelchairs, standing frames, walkers, bikes, floor sitters, and specialized gait orthosis’. She has a strong interest in the areas of power mobility, gait assessment, orthotic prescription and design, as well as resistance training in the pediatric population. Kara’s main philosophy of treatment is to help her clients gain as much confidence and functional independence as possible.
Kara recently moved to an acreage outside of Edmonton, with her husband, two young boys, and two cats! They love to spend time together outdoors, being physically active.
Karen Hoff Barron
Karen received her Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of British Columbia and is certified through Speech and Audiology Canada (SAC). She has practiced in North Central British Columbia, Alberta, and has recently provided family-focused intervention via telehealth with the Ontario Autism Program.
She has extensive experience providing a range of therapy services from infancy through adolescence in settings including schools, daycares, Head Start/preschool programs, health centres, and homes.
Karen has continued to pursue advanced training in areas including early intervention, autism spectrum disorder, social communication, and severe speech disorders. She also has extensive training, interest and experience working with children with complex communication needs (augmentative and alternative communication).
As a Hanen Certified Speech-Language Pathologist she regularly provides family-implemented intervention for children with language delays, as well as involving caregivers and educators in promoting early literacy skills.
Karen loves making connections with her clients and their families, and taking a collaborative approach to therapy in order to keep it functional and meaningful.
Pediatric Registered Dietitian
Kristen graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science with Distinction in Nutrition and Food Science with a specialization in Dietetics. She is registered with the College of Dietitians of Alberta and the Dietitians of Canada and has been practicing as a Pediatric Dietitian since 2011. Kristen has worked in a variety of areas ranging from intensive care to cardiology to outpatient counseling. She currently works at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in the NICU, helping the smallest babies grow and thrive. Kristen is excited to also now be working at Functional Therapy, helping families on a more holistic level.
Feeding our children can be stressful and difficult. Whether you are concerned about the health and nutrition of your child or you have a picky eater on your hands, Kristen is here to help! She is passionate about helping kids grow and thrive to their full potential as well as helping families feel confident and more at ease around feeding.
In her spare time, Kristen enjoys staying active, walking their dog Pongo, being outdoors as much as possible with her loving husband and kids or spending time with her family and friends!
Nicole is an Occupational Therapist and also offers Doula Services. She’s a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband and mother to three young girls who she adores. She lives on an acreage just outside of St. Albert and enjoys being outdoors and camping all around Alberta during the summer months.
In 2008, she graduated from the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine with a degree in Occupational Therapy and has absolutely loved her journey working with children in home and school-based settings over the last 12 years. She took some time off work to stay home with her two oldest daughters and four years later, she had her third daughter. It was having three babies that fuelled her passion for supporting laboring mothers so she decided to become a birth doula in June of 2019.
In addition to providing emotional, physical, and mental support to mothers, she loves providing that to the children and families she works with as a therapist. She is passionate about supporting children on their journey of growing and learning about themselves and has worked with many pediatric clients with various diagnoses over the years. She loves empowering them to achieve their full potential using a loving, nurturing, and engaging approach.
Nicole often pursues opportunities to further her knowledge by taking additional courses and seeking mentors to guide her in the holistic, client-centered, collaboration foundational principles of her practice.
Merrilea has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist for over 25 years, since graduating from the University of Alberta. She has spent much of her career working with adults, but in the last seven years she has discovered the wonderful world of paediatrics! Her practice has taken her from public health to preschool programs in three Edmonton area school divisions, and now to private practice with FUNctional Physical Therapy.
She has a natural love of kids and a practical approach to helping families and loves to see kiddos thrive and learn through play. She believes and important part of occupational therapy is empowering parents with tools and strategies to help their kiddos along the journey of independence. Whether she is working on self-help skills, motor skills, or just helping a child be calm and confident as they meet new challenges, her reward is seeing kids grow towards their full potential.
Merrilea joined the FUNctional Physical Therapy team in 2020, and loves being part of this amazing team of like-minded colleagues.
When she’s not working, Merrilea might be volunteering with her church community, enjoying the outdoors, reading a good book, or cooking for her hungry teens.
Samara graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelors of Kinesiology and a Masters of Physical Therapy. Since then she has worked almost exclusively in pediatrics in hospitals, schools and community settings.
She has had numerous experiences working with children both in Edmonton and abroad including working with children in markets of Ecuador and nannying infants and toddlers Hungary. Samara has had the incredible opportunity to work in the Pediatric Oncology, Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Pain, Plastics and Head Shape Clinics at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in inpatient and outpatient settings. She has also worked with children from newborns to teens at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and Preschool Rehabilitation Services and in rural school communities.
She is passionate about empowering children and their families to accomplish their goals and continue doing what they love! To her, being a part of the FUNctional Physical Therapy team means that everyone gets the opportunity to live up to their best potential and receives treatment that is personalized and meaningful to them. Samara likes to make things fun and isn’t afraid to be silly.
When she isn’t “nerding out” reading research articles or embarrassing her husband, she loves to travel, try out crazy yoga poses and go for long nature walks in the mountains.
Shannon has been practicing and learning as Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) for the past 25 years in Alberta.
She started her journey with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Winnipeg (where she grew up), followed by a master degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Alberta and just recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Master of Education.
Early in her career she was fortunate to work with Alberta Health at the health unit in Hinton and then later in Spruce Grove serving children and adults both in clinic and schools. It was not long before she started a private practice and has been providing contract services for Family Services for Children with Disabilities since 2005.
Since then she was also privileged to work with Edmonton Catholic Schools as an SLP and then as the SLP team Manager for the past 9 years.
She is so grateful to have found a career that she loves! She is most passionate about communication and sees the immense opportunities that can open up when we are able to communicate effectively.
Everyone should have a voice and so when speaking is difficult, Shannon loves assisting children and families in figuring out how and when to use technology to help them find those words.
Shannon gives back to her community and profession by mentoring and coaching SLP students from the University of Alberta and SLP assistants from Macewan each year. She also currently serves on various committees for the Alberta College of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists and Speech and Audiology Canada.
You can expect her approach to therapy to be fun, functional play-based while taking into account your child’s interests … that is when the learning happens even when it is challenging.
She spends her spare time with her five children, dog, 2 cats and 24 fish… and husband of course! They love to cook, bake, walk, garden, do puzzles, paint, watch movies and play board games!
Shannon enjoys new challenges and professes that she is always learning. One thing she knows for sure is that she loves working with children and their families! She is patient, a great listener, a creative problem solver and knows what it is like to have a busy household! Your goals are important to her and she will make every extra effort to help figure out how to get there together.
She can’t wait to work with you and your child!
Shazia Virani graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Alberta in 1998. Since then she has practised in schools and community settings.
She is passionate about working with children who are experiencing difficulty with movement. Her approach to interventions are creative and fun and she is a firm believer in inclusion and meaningful participation in activities. Shazia is a lifelong learner and participates in ongoing continuing education which has most recently included the areas of toe walking, dry needling, and yoga and mindfulness.
When she is not at work she is a busy mom to 4 boys and a new addition to the family, their puppy Hazel.
Sheila’s interest in special needs started in elementary where she supported a segregated learning classroom during lunch hour. Sheila soon developed a passion and desire to change the way society interacts with those in the disabled community.
While attending University of Saskatchewan she worked with families with children with special needs and began to work towards behavior consulting and interventions. Sheila worked for Transitions where she discovered a connection with autistic children and a deep desire to learn more. She joined Family Linkages Foundation for Autism and began her journey as a behavior interventionist. Sheila had the privilege of working on the PUF Teams, as well as with ELT and ILT Teams within school divisions for over 15 years. In this capacity, she has worked with a multi-disciplinary team of therapists to cultivate the best learning environment for students.
Sheila continues to support client families in the community and recently has become a team member with FUNctional Physical Therapy, Inc providing family support coaching and strategy consultation within Indigenous communities.
Sheila’s passion is to support all families and look beyond diagnosis and delays. She believes providing coaching and consulting to families and community organizations encourages strengths to rise and paths for inclusion. Sheila is committed to providing inclusive social programs within the community.
To further create community inclusion, she founded Plugged In Community Centre Organization, a charity with the mandate to build a facility that will provide access to all citizens. Sheila was the recipient of the St. Albert Baha’i International Women’s Day award for Exemplary Service in the Community, as well as Autism Edmonton’s Community Champions Award. Infinite Resources Inc. has allowed her to create events that can create inclusion for children/teen, families and the community: Beautiful Me, Plugged In and Supported Community as well as powerful PD Day Sessions.
In her free time, Sheila loves to spend time with her family and her beautiful pups. She is fun loving and enjoys walking, nature, and adventure!
Stacy graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor
of Science in Physical Therapy in 2005 and obtained her Masters in Health Studies in 2020. Having worked in a variety of settings with children, adults and seniors over the past 16 years (acute and tertiary care hospitals, private practice clinics, school settings, and client homes), Stacy brings a multifaceted approach to treatment. She also continues to be involved with the University of Alberta Physical Therapy Department in a variety of capacities.
Stacy discovered her passion for pediatric physical therapy with the arrival of her identical twin girls with special needs. Through the experience of being a parent of children requiring additional support, Stacy was inspired to focus her expertise and experience towards supporting other families. She has a unique ability to blend the parent and therapist perspectives during collaboration with therapists and families.
Stacy’s practice focuses on family centered care and building a connection with each child. She is passionate about supporting the abilities of all children and takes a fun and functional approach in helping the child and their family reach their goals.
Susan is a Physical Therapist with over 25 years of experience across a variety of settings. After starting her own family, she discovered a passion for working with children and has spent the past 14 years working with preschool, kindergarten, and school aged children.
Susan has experience working with children who have a variety of neurological and orthopedic conditions as well as children who experience coordination challenges. She has developed expertise in assessment/intervention and strives to incorporate strategies into play or daily activities whenever possible. Susan works closely with families and other team members to provide family-centered services.
She volunteers with the You Can Ride 2 Biking Program and recently completed the training for You Can Ride 2: Teaching children with disabilities how to ride a two wheeled bicycle. Susan has taken several courses on Teaching Yoga to children and enjoys sharing yoga with children and families. Susan loves to spend time outdoors hiking, cross country skiing, and exploring the Edmonton River valley with her family.
Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Assistant
Tamara moved to Alberta in 2007, from Ontario, met her husband and has happily made Alberta her home. She loves playing sports, staying active, being outside and with her family.
She started her career as a PTA/OTA (therapy assistant) with kids aged 2-6 at Elves Special Needs Society in Edmonton in 2010. Tamara then moved into adult neurology as a PTA at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.
Since then she has grown her family to include her 4 beautiful kids and have devoted the past 8 years to being a stay at home mom. Having a sweet and lovely daughter with special needs has brought her interest and heart back into pediatrics. Tamara assists with families in our clinic and also provides administrative clinic support to our FUN team.
Tamara is so excited to continue to learn and grow with FUNctional while working with families in the community.
Tara Willes graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Physical Therapy in 2005. She began supporting children in early childhood programs almost immediately. However, her passion and dedication for teaching children began many years before that.
Tara’s background as a dancer and dance instructor provided a strong foundation of teaching children movement skills in fun, creative ways with a focus on developing each individual’s potential. Through her career as a physical therapist, she has had opportunities to work at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, within a variety of school programs and worked directly with children and families in their home or community. Tara strives to build strong relationships with every child and family she supports and is committed to helping them reach their goals. She has trained to be a Yoga for Kids instructor and continues to believe in learning through ‘play’ as a rule for her pediatric practice.
Tara endeavors to bring her enthusiasm for health and wellness into her professional life. This includes understanding the delicate balance of including therapy in the daily lives of children while maintaining the important roles of play and family time.