Kerry’s Place Autism Services - Ontario, Belleville

GoodLife Kids Foundation is supporting the My Good Life program at Kerry’s Place Autism Services in Belleville, ON. Kerry’s Place is committed to enhancing the quality of life of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder through innovative personalized supports, expertise, collaboration and advocacy. The My Good Life program will run after school for 8 weeks through May and June, introducing students with autism in grades 9-12 to physical activity opportunities in their community. The program is designed to address barriers to exercise that are specific to autism such as communication challenges, emotional vulnerability and sensory aversions. Participants and their families will receive education and exposure to accessible, local, and ideal options for physical activity. 3 hour sessions will incorporate an indoor group fitness component followed by outdoor excursions to various parks and paths for equipment-free exercise like walking, yoga and circuit training. The informed curriculum sets participants up for positive physical activity experiences that can be sustained throughout their lifetime.

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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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