Calgary Sledge Hockey Association - Alberta, Calgary

GoodLife Kids Foundation is supporting Calgary Sledge Hockey Association’s Junior Sledge Hockey Program. From September through April, children with disabilities under the age of 12 will enjoy Saturday sessions honing their hockey skills. The group plays under the moniker Calgary Venom, challenging local able-bodied teams to try their hand in sledges throughout the season and ultimately participating in the annual Western Canada Sledge Hockey Tournament. The program’s vision is to remove barriers to athletic success, develop leaders through sport, and to promote a culture of acceptance, innovation and teamwork. Venom participants have the opportunity to interact with a variety of health experts including nutritionists, yoga instructors and physiotherapists. These lessons give the children the tools they need to engage in a safe and healthy lifestyle. Through sledge hockey, children build confidence, acceptance, and foster friendships in the supportive environment provided by the Calgary Sledge Hockey Association.

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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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