Community Highlight – Canucks Autism in Vancouver
Sports and Autism: Canucks Autism Network Breaks Barriers
Do you remember the feeling of exhilaration when you first learned to ride a bike? Or the confidence and camaraderie you felt when you played on your first sports team or made your first friend?
For an individual with autism, these special opportunities don’t always exist. Not because they aren’t interested in sports and recreation, but because the adequate support is not always available.
BC-based, Canucks Autism Network (CAN) is aiming to change this by offering year-round, high-quality sports and recreation programs for children, teens and young adults living with autism, while increasing awareness and providing training in communities across British Columbia.
CAN not only provides opportunities for individuals with autism to acquire physical literacy, practice social skills, and learn new sports, it also allows families to feel part of a community of support. Families like the Donsanj-Johals.
“We have been so impressed with the Canucks Autism Network since our son joined their skate program earlier this year,” says Michelle Donsanj-Johals. “Nobody was phased by the challenges of his autism. They accepted him and provided him with the amount of support he required based on his own individual needs. Most importantly, they never gave up on him. He was participating in ways we had never seen before.”
In addition to community-based programming, CAN is dedicated to delivering training workshops as a means to foster awareness and understanding of autism, while increasing capacity across the province. Through education and training, the Vancouver-based non-profit organization, aims to empower businesses, teachers, community groups, and first-responders to be more inclusive and supportive of individuals with autism.
Founded in 2008, the Canucks Autism Network is now considered a national leader in the provision of autism training to the sports and recreation community. CAN has delivered workshops and created resources for several groups and sporting organizations including: Coaching Association of Canada, Canadian Sport for Life, viaSport, Special Olympics Canada, Jays Care Foundation/Challenger Baseball, Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing, Tennis BC, Curl BC, Golf BC, Triathlon BC and many others.
Workshop topics may include: Challenges faced by individuals with autism in sport and recreation settings, communication tips, teaching/coaching tools, motivation and behaviour support strategies, tips for successful inclusion and more. Workshop costs vary depending on the training location, size of group and duration of training event.
Anyone looking for tips on supporting individuals with autism in sports and recreation settings can access free resources at www.canucksautism.ca/training or view the following webinar, hosted by viaSport, with Canucks Autism Network Director of Training and Programs, Stephanie Jull, PhD, BCBA-D, as presenter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh9NtFkei_Y.
To learn more about CAN’s training opportunities, please email [email protected]. For more information on the Canucks Autism Network, please visit www.canucksautism.ca, email [email protected] or call (604) 685-4049.