Symington Endowment Fund

Description of donor:

Symington Endowment Fund

Vivien has lived rehabilitation and gymnastics all her life. Vivien was exposed to rehabilitation gyms from her infancy.  She discovered her passion for gymnastics while accompanying her Dad to the rehab gym whenever she had the chance. An accident left her brother quadriplegic at the age of 19, motivating her to bring her love of gymnastics to all children, including those living with disabilities. Vivien obtained degrees in Physical and Health Education at Queen’s and Dalhousie Universities, specializing in adapted physical education and gymnastics.

In 2002, under direct consultation with her father, Vivien established a program for children living with autism. This has grown into the Empowering Steps Movement Therapy Program (ESMT), copyrighted in 2008, which serves over 150children with various neurodevelopmental delays annually. ESMT involves a gymnastics based curriculum, an aquatic curriculum, a bike riding program, a coach/therapist training course, a university affiliated preceptor program for undergraduate students and an evaluation/ research arm.

Vivien is deeply aware of the challenges facing a disabled child, and also their family. Her program reaches and includes the entire family. Parents and siblings are frequently included in sessions to build child self esteem, parent confidence and healthy family relationships.

In 2017, Vivien was inducted into the Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame as a Community Builder for her work with children in the Empowering Steps Movement Therapy Program. In 2018, she was honoured with the title of Business Leader of the Year by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce for her contribution to the community and her work with the ESMT program.

Purpose of Fund:

The Symington Endowment Fund is designed to assist children living with autism and other mobility challenges through grants and bursaries for one-to-one therapy and summer camp programs. This fund will also assist athletes who are enrolled in competitive gymnastics programs and in youth-at-risk programs throughout the Tri-Cities area. The fund was established in 2009 by Vivien Symington, owner/founder of Club Aviva and the Empowering Steps Movement Therapy Program. Ms. Symington dedicated the fund in honour of her parents, Dr. David and Evelyn Symington. Click here to see a Facebook photo album showing the Empowering Steps program in action.


This is a donor-advised fund advised by Vivien herself. The fund is to support the causes listed above.

How to apply for this fund:

This fund is not open for grant applications.

How to donate to the fund:

There are several ways you can give to the Foundation. To see all the options click on the following link: Giving Options.

There are two popular ways you can donate to this fund. First, a cheque made payable to the Coquitlam Foundation can be sent to:

P.O. Box 64710, Sunwood Square, Coquitlam, BC  V3B 0H1

Include a note that the donation is for the "Symington Endowment Fund". Donations sent this way of $25 or more will receive a tax receipt.

The second way you can donate is through our online donation system, which is provided by Canada Helps, a non-profit organization. Through a fee of 3.5% to cover the cost of the credit card charge Canada Helps will issue you a tax receipt directly for your donations. We thank them for their partnership.