Child’s pose. Downward dog. Warrior 1. Shavasana.
When thinking about physical activity and fitness, it is easy to identify traditional sports and recreational activities like soccer, baseball, swimming or gymnastics. But of course, physical fitness can come in many different forms—including through Yoga.
And for a young person like Sarah, who found it difficult to access typical physical activity due to unique challenges with her gross motor skill development, avoiding gym class that was primarily structured around traditional sports, was her norm.
“In gym class, she was always worried about being hit by a ball because she can’t react as quickly,” explains Sarah’s mom, Wendy. “Sarah was always at a disadvantage physically.”
For Sarah, finding a physical activity program without the intensity of traditional sport, while still meeting her individual needs, was important to her—but also a challenge.
When Sarah and her mom discovered the Leisure in Fun Environments (L.I.F.E.) program at Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation (CRF) in Winnipeg, they both knew it was an immediate fit.
The L.I.F.E. program at CRF provides children, youth and teens with disabilities a wide range of recreational opportunities including summer day camps, music therapy, swimming and Yoga (to name a few).
Having tried Yoga a few times before, Sarah decided to join the L.I.F.E. program and begin a physical activity journey that was a perfect fit for her in both body and mind.
“Yoga is now one of my favourite activities,” says Sarah, “[L.I.F.E.] has been different from other experiences because they do what is best for each of us. It’s been a really great experience.”
The goal of the L.I.F.E program is to not only introduce participants like Sarah to recreational activities, but to help them gain confidence and develop friendships along the way: “Our program leaders are experienced and passionate,” says Steve Dreger, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at CRF, “[and participants] learn, play and reach their full potential while meeting new people and building new relationships.”
“Sarah is happier and has more awareness around her health,” says Wendy, “[L.I.F.E.] is somewhere she can go where she can actually be successful and feel really good about herself.”
Since joining the L.I.F.E. program, Sarah’s confidence and body awareness has increased and she frequently challenges herself by practicing Yoga poses at home.
With this new-found confidence, Sarah, who is now 20 years old, has been inspired to give back through volunteering with CRF, in hopes that she can help others gain confidence, make friends and feel good about participating in physical activity programs.
And through funding from GoodLife Kids Foundation, CRF has been able to offer more programs just like L.I.F.E., allowing participants like Sarah to try new sports and activities, learn about exercise and have fun—all while feeling like they belong.
“We definitely appreciate what GoodLife Kids Foundation does for our community and participants like Sarah, it’s a great partnership, that makes such a difference,” says Steve. “We’re all thankful.”