Oct. 13, 2020

Sport and recreation opportunities expand for those with disabilities

UCalgary a partner in Calgary Adaptive Hub: Powered by Jumpstart
Adapted camp
Participant at an adapted camp at UCalgary

The University of Calgary is collaborating with six Calgary-based community partners to make sport and recreation more accessible for children with disabilities.

The new collective is the Calgary Adaptive Hub: Powered by Jumpstart, and is supported by Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, an initiative to help support children with disabilities in sport and recreation.

“We are excited about the launch of the Hub that will support the development and extension of adapted physical activity programming to children with disabilities in Calgary,” says Dr. Carolyn Emery, PhD, professor in the Faculty of Kinesiologylead of the Vi Riddell Pediatric Rehabilitation Research Program and chair of the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre at the University of Calgary.

The opportunity to bridge the gap between research and best practice in the delivery of adapted sport and recreation programs in Calgary will optimize health outcomes for youth with disabilities through Jumpstart and partnerships between the seven members.”

The Calgary Adaptive Hub brings together municipal recreation, sport programming and academic stakeholders to collaborate on designing and offering more inclusive programs across more facilities throughout Calgary. The other six partners include Mount Royal University, City of Calgary Recreation, Sport Calgary, Vivo for Healthier Generations, Repsol Sport Centre, and WinSport with support from the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ont. The Hub is funded by a three-year Jumpstart Development Grant which will set up the Hub to serve the community for years to come.

For UCalgary’s role in the Hub, the Adapted Summer Sports Camp has been running since 2018, through Active Living’s summer camps program, though it was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. The program is a five-day camp on campus where participants with disabilities try 13 different sports such as swimming, gymnastics, rock climbing, sledge hockey, karate, and wheelchair volleyball and basketball with the support of community sport and recreation partners. The research and graduate student engagement in evaluating these adapted physical activity programs at UCalgary over the past three years have been supported through the Vi Riddell Children’s Pain and Rehabilitation Centre and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“It’s fantastic for the participants, because they really have a good idea of which activities they want to pursue after five days. Often this is the first time they have had the chance to try these sports,” says Logan Jones, manager for youth programs, Active Living.  Once the camp wraps up, participants can meet with the partner organizations to participate in the adapted sport of their choice.

Elysa Sandron led the development of the adapted sport camp at UCalgary as part of her Master of Science in Kinesiology program. Sandron used evidence-based research to create the program and uses the findings to continually improve it.

“It’s enjoyable to provide youth with physical disabilities the space to create lasting memories, friendships and help in their journey of an active lifestyle. It has also been amazing to see the impact of the camp on parents; reducing the barriers to enrolling their kids in regular physical activity programs within our city,” says Sandron.

Sandron says it can be difficult for families to find adapted sport and recreation program, and she looks forward to being involved with the Hub.  

“I am sure the Hub will provide many children and adolescents with disabilities the opportunity to gain confidence, build friendships and be physically active in ways they may never have known possible. I am grateful for this funding from Jumpstart and I am full of high hopes and excitement for the initiative,” says Sandron.

Carolyn Emery, PhD, is a professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) in the departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Science. She is also a member of the CSM’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. She is also the lead of the Vi Riddell Pediatric Rehabilitation Research Program and chair of the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre at the University of Calgary.