Win 4 Kids Finalist: The Steadward Centre
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.”
“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.”