Niagara Support Services - Ontario, Niagara Falls

GoodLife Kids Foundation is supporting Niagara Support Services’ Children’s Movement Program. Serving children with developmental disabilities, the program focuses on teaching gross and fine motor skills, increasing flexibility and strength, spatial awareness, range of motion, walking patterns, and energy expenditure. Activities are all play-based for maximum engagement from participants with visual cues and schedules to provide structure and predictability. Movement skills are taught through concepts such as body awareness, learning to bounce, walk, lie down, climb, and balance, and are reinforced by home play. Parents are provided with suggestions for activities that will encourage new skills, practice existing skills, and make exercise fun and playful. Funding from GoodLife Kids Foundation will allow the program to grow to two nights per week, doubling their capacity to serve children in the Niagara area.

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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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