She shoots, she scores!
It was all smiles for five-year-old Veda Graw as she and other athletes kicked balls into a net during their first session at Active Start.
Facilitated by Special Olympics British Columbia, Active Start is a program designed to introduce athletes with intellectual disabilities between ages 2 and 6 to sport — enhancing their still-developing motor skills in a safe and supportive environment.
“We want children in Active Start to build a positive relationship with physical activity and start off feeling confident and capable,” says Caitlin McBride, Fundraising and Communications Coordinator at Special Olympics BC.
For children like Veda, who has faced challenges developing her motor skills, programs like these not only develop these practical skills, but build confidence and a sense of accomplishment – and the chance to make friends.
“Everyone looks at her as a friend and as an athlete, as an equal and a regular kid,” says Veda’s mom, Amanda.
Children participating in Active Start begin learning skills such as running, jumping and throwing through fun activities like obstacle courses, balance beams and Veda’s favourite – parachute!
“[Our programs] are set-up to move at the pace of each child,” says Lois McNary, VP of Sport at Special Olympics BC, “We use equipment that is totally geared towards their needs and ensures that every child will be successful and show growth.”
Lois says this sporting equipment is designed and adapted in a number of ways including being lighter or easier to grasp – making this a vital piece of Special Olympics BC programming.
Through grant funding from GoodLife Kids Foundation, Special Olympics BC was able to purchase more of this important equipment – meaning more kids can participate and families can even borrow these items. This increased opportunity allows the children to not only practice skills learned in the program – but build friendships with other kids!
“When families bring home the equipment, other kids in the neighbourhood want to play too,” says Lois, “it’s a cool opportunity for families and children.”
This funding has also allowed Special Olympics BC to continue expanding their programming geographically- making it easier for parents that live in smaller communities to access programs easily.
“We want to say thank you [to GoodLife Kids Foundation],” Lois says, “we hope that through all of this people can see that what they do is making a huge difference for not just the child – but the entire family.”
And Veda’s mom, Amanda, couldn’t be more grateful that programs like this exist and break down barriers for her daughter: “I feel really grateful and happy that we found Special Olympics and were able to provide this opportunity for [Veda] and open up a world that caters to people of different abilities.”
GoodLife Kids Foundation raises funds to remove barriers and provide physical activity opportunities for kids with special needs all across Canada, just like Veda. To date, GoodLife Kids Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 250,000 Canadian kids!