Laughter echoed through the building as twins Veyda and Remi ran their laps as fast as they could, crossing the finish line with ear-to-ear smiles.
It was a proud moment for mom Liora and staff at the Adapted Fitness Centre to see the twins encouraging each other to go faster.
11-year-old Veyda has autism along with a developmental coordination disorder, while her twin Remi has developmental delays and arthritis, which impact their fine and gross motor skills.
Liora found it challenging to find programming that was customized to support the unique individual needs of both Veyda and Remi—while also giving them an outlet to build confidence and have fun with physical activity.
“Veyda and Remi can sometimes feel like they just can’t do what the other kids are doing and in a lot of programs we’ve tried, they’ve had to do it alone,” says Liora. “They can feel isolated and it can be overwhelming for them without one-to-one support or accommodation available.”
When Liora found the Adapted Fitness Centre at Thames Valley Children’s Centre (TVCC), she knew it would be a perfect fit for Veyda and Remi.
The Adapted Fitness Centre in London, Ontario provides kids and teens with access to adapted and accessible equipment along with a multidisciplinary support team including recreation and physical therapists.
“When we meet the family, we complete an individual assessment and look at not only the physical fitness goals we are trying to achieve, but the social and emotional ones as well,” explains Rachel Ireland, Recreation Therapist at TVCC. “We work with kids where they are at in that moment, based on their capacity.”
All workouts are completely customized based on each child, who is paired one-to-one with a staff member who supports and facilitates the entire session. While participating in their workout program, kids can also learn about proper movement and the benefits of the exercise as they work toward their physical activity goals.
For Veyda, these workouts include specific exercises and activities that support improved coordination and balance.
“Veyda loves using the weighted balls during her sessions. She can lose sight of things travelling too quickly, but because these are heavier she is able to bounce them back and forth,” explains Liora. “Remi and Veyda also love the treadmill and doing planks—they even record their times so they can challenge themselves!”
Participating at the Adapted Fitness Centre has been a fun and life changing experience for the twins, who have found a new love for physical activity while achieving important milestones— including Remi’s improved endurance and Veyda’s increased balance and sense of self-confidence in day-to-day activities.
“Our absolute favourite aspect of the program is the exhilaration and accomplishment they feel,” says Liora. “It’s been amazing for our family.”
Grant funding from GoodLife Kids Foundation has allowed the Adapted Fitness Centre Program to increase program hours and open up spots from their waitlist, meaning more families were able to access the centre throughout the year.
Says Rachel: “It’s so rewarding to see kids realize their potential, their self-worth and that they do have something to offer, they do have abilities—we all just present them differently.”
GoodLife Kids Foundation raises funds to remove barriers and provide physical activity opportunities for kids with special needs all across Canada, just like Veyda and Remi. To date, GoodLife Kids Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 254,000 Canadian kids!