York Region, On – Youth with “hidden disabilities” will have more opportunities to ski and snowboard thanks to a new Canadian training initiative.
With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Freestyle Ontario/Freestyle Canada, Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS), and Canada Snowboard, all partners are enhancing their training resources to ensure instructors and coaches can lead inclusive programs effectively.
This multi-partner collaboration will be aligning the current leading-edge content developed by all organizations with up to date research on effective strategies for inclusion for 20% of the population who live with hidden disabilities such as Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD), Cognitive Impairment (CI), mental health issues and/or learning disabilities.
“CADS has been offering quality training to teach adaptive snowsports for over forty years, but in recent years we have seen demand dramatically increase for skiers and snowboarders with Autism and Cognitive Impairments.” says CADS Managing Director Christian Hrab. “We see this project as an opportunity to improve and expand our ASD/CI training and offer this to many recreation programs and to snow schools.”
Freestyle Canada was in the process of developing a “Count Me In” module to teach sport coaches practical strategies to include kids who experience challenges in participating in groups in clubs and other sport, when it became obvious that the CADS relationship was a natural fit.
“Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are great sports for people with unique abilities and personalities,” explains Freestyle Canada Sport Development Director Meredith Gardner. “Count Me In will borrow proven strategies from education and recreation that make the sport experience more fun for everyone; and combined with CADS training, our competitive stream coaches and clubs will be much better prepared to be inclusive.”
“The sad truth is up to 1 in 5 Canadian kids get pushed out, or opt out of sport, because they struggle socially or in some cases can’t process the rapid directions that coaches throw at them.” Gardner adds, “Freestyle Ontario is well prepared to lead this ground-breaking Ontario Trillium Foundation funded initiative.”
Freestyle Ontario will oversee the development and alignment of content and piloting of the Count Me In and CADS Autism/CI modules. Count Me In course piloting starts late fall 2017 in York Region and Simcoe County, Ontario.
Meredith Gardner - Director, Sport Development Freestyle Canada