Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ontario- Municipality of Clarington

GoodLife Fitness Bowmanville Mall’s fundraising efforts during the 2011 Be A Kid’s Superhero Campaign is being recognized with a grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Clarington in support of the Go Girls! and Game On! programs. The entire Municipality of Clarington including Bowmanville, Courtice, Newcastle, Newtonville, Orono, Hampton and Burketon will be impacted by the funding.

Go Girls! is a program designed to address the physical activity, balanced eating and positive self-image needs of young women ages 10-14 based on a group mentoring model. The main goal of Go Girls! is for young women to develop an appreciation of the benefits of an active, healthy, lifestyle. The program is structured around four themes: physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem, and communication skills.

Game On! uses a mentor approach to provide boys ages 10-14 with information and support to make informed choices about a range of healthy lifestyle practices. Through non-traditional physical activities, complemented with healthy eating support, participants will have the opportunity to become involved in lifestyle decision making and develop habits for regular physical activity.

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#FEELGOODFRIDAY "You can do it!" yells 10-year-old Arabella as she cheers on her peers who are tackling riding bikes for the first time. Arabella has cerebral palsy, which causes her to lose her balance easily, but give this girl a set of wheels and she can keep up with any kid her age. Several years ago, Arabella had the chance to try out a balance bike with larger wheels. With advice from an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist, her family ordered her a customized bicycle, and she hasn’t stopped since. Thanks to a GoodLife Kids Grant, families in Winnipeg can continue to try out specially adapted kids' bicycles at the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation. “Many children with physical disabilities end up sitting on the sidelines while their family and friends are being active. We find a bike that works for them and help them get active and join in on the fun,” said Christine Schollenberg, executive director. There are bicycles with all kinds of adaptations to suit various needs - like head support, trunk support and low riders for kids who need more stability. Once families find the right bike for their child, they can order one of their own with funding through the program. Arabella’s father Trevor says the adapted bicycle was the starting point for Arabella discover her love of cycling. She's since grown out of her balance bike and plans to donate it back to the centre so another little girl can enjoy it. “Now we ride together as a family and Arabella has a regular bike," says Trevor. "We learned that she doesn’t have to restrict what she does. Arabella can do almost anything a kid without disabilities can. That’s been a huge boost to her confidence and physical abilities and it’s brought our family together.”

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