Autism Society Newfoundland Labrador - St. John's

GoodLife Kids Foundation is supporting the 1:1 Swim Program offered by the Autism Society, Newfoundland Labrador. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in St. John’s area are introduced to swimming during private lessons with instructors with specialized training. The 1:1 Swim Program helps ease the stress of unfamiliar settings and activities by offering a safe and supportive learning environment. During individualized lessons, swimmers are able to work towards personal goals. Following 8 week sessions, participants have gained confidence to join their family and friends in the pool. Many are able to transition to typical small group lessons for further instruction. Funds from GoodLife Kids Foundation will help expand the program to serve up to 80 kids per year, getting them off the waitlist and active in the water.

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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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