Movement skills made fun

By GoodLife Kids on 16/11/2016

Active play leads to development at Niagara Support Services’
Children’s Movement Program

“Most of the time, the kids are having so much fun that they won’t realize that they are also helping their bodies in targeted ways,”1 (1).png
Monday has become the best day of the week for a group of children with developmental disabilities in Niagara Falls. Why, you ask? Because Monday is when they get to attend the Children’s Movement Program run by Niagara Support Services.

Play is the name of the game, but let me assure you, it isn’t just a free-for-all. The program is supervised by a Movement Specialist with a background in kinesiology and autism behaviour and supported by a team of dedicated volunteers. Based on initial assessments, participants work toward individual goals such as improved coordination, spatial awareness, balance, range of motion, flexibility and strength. This sounds like hard work, so why do kids love it? The trick is what Movement Specialist Darren Korpela calls “embedded activities.”

“Most of the time, the kids are having so much fun that they won’t realize that they are also helping their bodies in targeted ways,”1.png
Gym activities are all play-based for maximum engagement. “Most of the time, the kids are having so much fun that they won’t realize that they are also helping their bodies in targeted ways,” explains Korpela. “For example, riding a bicycle along a marked track can help train spatial awareness or reaching to get a ball in the net can work on range of motion.” Kids also have the added benefit of spending time with peers and developing social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and encouraging others.

Korpela, who has been a GoodLife Member on-and-off for over 14 years, is very grateful for GoodLife Kids Foundation’s support of the Children’s Movement Program with a grant of $10,000 to help with staffing and equipment costs this year. “It is absolutely amazing knowing that there is someone out there that really wants to help these kids,” he says. “Movement is especially important in the context of disability, and kids learn habits early on. By helping them to develop skills through physical activity, we hope it leads to a lifetime of being active and a better overall quality of life.”

“GoodLife has helped me work toward my personal fitness goals for years,” says Korpela. “It is really special to see them giving back through GoodLife Kids Foundation in my community and to an organization that is so important to me. Thank you so much for supporting these kids!”


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GoodLife Kids
GoodLife Kids Foundation shares resources and links to help you provide a healthier and more physically active lifestyle for the children in your life.

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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