Sheer joy. That’s the only turn of phrase that can be used to explain the look on 11-year-old Liam’s face when his Dad, Brent, picked him up from Blaze Summer Camp.
According to Karen, Liam’s mom, he’s always been a bit of a Daddy’s boy, and would jump at the chance to grab his Dad’s hand and head home.
But on the last day of camp when Dad arrived, Liam did something different, for the first time, he didn’t want to leave. He was having so much fun, he was more interested in staying at camp than anything else. And that’s not typical for Liam.
Liam is a sweet, loving child, who loves riding his bike, shooting hoops, and playing with (and bugging!) his younger brother. Liam also has a significant speech delay, finds it challenging to write his own name, and is very sensitive to strong smells and loud noises because of Autism Spectrum Disorder. All this, coupled together, can make it difficult for him to control his emotions and frustrations.
Those are just some of the reasons why, for Liam, being physically active and engaged is so important. When he is active, controlling his emotions and frustrations is much easier. But in the underserved region of North Durham, Ontario, it proved to be quite challenging to find programs that fit with Liam’s needs and were affordable.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Karen explains, “when Liam asks why he’s not able to go to swim, hockey, or soccer camp like his younger brother. But there truly aren’t opportunities that give him the support he needs.”
Plus Liam’s parents wanted him to have an awesome summer, a summer like ones enjoyed by other kids – one filled with exercise, socialization, and enjoyment.
That’s where Blaze Summer Camp – and the GoodLife Kids Foundation – came in.
Each and every day after camp, Liam came home with the biggest smile across his face… he was trying new things, making friends and finding new ways to manage his emotions, all through physical activity.
Blaze Summer Camp and the funding from the GoodLife Kids Foundation enabled Liam to try things he had never had the opportunity to try because of the support network in place.
“We’re really grateful for the funding that is provided,” says Karen, “To be able to have that one-on-one counsellor relationship is so wonderful and rewarding.”
With his own dedicated counsellor, who created a structured and physical program just for him, Liam thrived, made new friends, and felt like he truly belonged. For the first time, Liam was experiencing a summer just like other children, just like his brother.
From playing on the splash pads, to bike riding on the dry ice pads at the arena, to learning new sports like soccer and baseball, Liam was having tons of fun, while building important social skills and cultivating physical literacy on every level.
Healthy Kids and Healthy Families
But it wasn’t just Liam who had an incredible experience. Seeing Liam so happy and gaining new and important skills, reduced stress for Karen and Brent. Liam was active, learning lots, and having new adventures and experiences; all opportunities not usually available to him or their family. It was the awesome summer they’d always dreamed Liam could experience.
The impact of Liam’s time at camp has lasted long after the summer.
“His confidence has gone through the roof. We find him singing camp songs, teaching his younger brother and friends his favourite games and activities,” Karen explains.
For all of this, Karen, Brent, and Liam and their entire family is truly thankful.
GoodLife Kids Foundation raises funds to remove barriers and provide physical activity opportunities for kids all across Canada, just like Liam. To date, with support from partners and donors like you, the GoodLife Kids Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 250,000 Canadian kids!