Win 4 Kids Finalist: The Steadward Centre

$8,000 Winner


Free2BMe, the children and youth component of The Steadward Centre provides individuals experiencing disability opportunity to gain physical confidence and competence needed to engage in physical activity, sport and fitness programs. These programs are delivered in an environment that supports each unique individual as they gain confidence to be active for life. Free2BMe empowers kids to be more physically active, feel good about themselves, and to enjoy more independence.

Free2BMe programs are tailored to each child’s unique learning style and physical ability. Participant goals include everything from riding a bike, climbing stairs, throwing a ball, learning the concepts of soccer, skateboarding or being introduced to a fitness centre. The staff are trained to develop progressive programs and foster inclusive environments to enhance participant success.

The Physical Activity Led by Students (PALS) program pairs senior undergraduate students from the Faculties of Physical Education, Rehabilitation, Science, and Education with children to instruct fundamental movement skills based on programs designed and supervised by Adapted Physical Activity Consultants. Children enjoy 30-minute one-on-one activity sessions working towards individualized goals with their mentors as they develop their motor skills, strength, and balance. PALS is a valuable learning resource for participants and volunteers alike. It is anticipated that a minimum of 50 children and youth between the ages of 4-14 and 20 student volunteers from the University of Alberta will take part in the PALS program.

Funds from Win 4 Kids will allow PALS to expand to 4 days/week, purchase additional equipment, support volunteer recruitment and training to meet increasing demand for the program. Free2BMe firmly believes that skills developed in their programs extend far beyond their walls into the playgrounds and communities of each participant.

Our Free2BMe program supports over 600 kids and teens each year to be physically active; the PALS program will provide opportunities for MORE youth to access our programs and enhance learning opportunities for undergraduate students. We believe our parents say it best:


“Our son was born with many gross and fine motor skill issues. He also has a hard time with motor planning which has made even simple tasks difficult for him. My son is now able to do many things in life for himself such as climbing a ladder which helped him be able to play at the park with friends. He has become stronger and his balance improves every day. I am so glad I found this program to help my son because I never realized how important these skills are in life.  I love how they can break down the tasks for my son and make it so much fun. He has bonded with every student coach he has had in the PALS program. They have made such an impact on his life and ours. We are truly grateful.” Free2BMe Parent

“When your child has a disability you spend so much of your time trying to make your child fit into existing programs…the Free2BMe program was the first place I didn’t have to train anyone, nor did my daughter have to conform to a pre-existing standard. She was welcomed and immediately accepted for who she was.”  

Free2BMe Parent

“Our kids are finally part of the kind of programs and activities they never could participate in before. For us, this was a relief that a movement is out there for a more inclusive world.”
Free2BMe Parent



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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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