Keira McNeil has always loved being active. When COVID-19 lockdowns began, it was important to find new ways for Keira, who is 14 and on the autism spectrum, to keep her body moving and try new skills and activities. Keira’s mother, Stephanie, learned about MOVE—a program by GoodLife Kids Foundation—and signed Keira up.
MOVE by GoodLife Kids is a physical activity program for youth aged 12-21 with intellectual disabilities or autism. Participants and their caregivers join small virtual group fitness sessions from their homes. They explore fun and engaging physical activities with coaches who are experienced at working with people of all ability levels. Young people benefit from social connections while moving their bodies and discovering fun new ways to stay active and healthy.
Stephanie says a big part of why Keira loves the MOVE program is that she gets to exercise with her family.
“She’s so excited to be doing it with us. Sometimes she just comes over and gives me a kiss in the middle of the workout. She’s just thrilled we can do something together,” says Stephanie. “Her favourite activities to come back to are ‘the floor is lava,’ ‘invent your own yoga pose,’ and ‘frog jumps.’”
Coach Sherry Ball, who started the first MOVE program in November 2020, also appreciates the value of having families join MOVE.
“The best part about having caregivers involved in theses sessions is that they can connect to other caregivers in similar circumstances, enjoy some active time with their child, celebrate their child’s successes, and all while increasing their own physical fitness.”
To establish a predictable routine, participants learn exercises and active games, and coaches slowly add new material over the weeks to encourage flexibility and creativity. A typical MOVE session starts with virtual social time for participants and the coach, followed by a fun workout (with lots of dancing!), and finishing with a relaxing meditation.
Over the longer term, the goal is to teach participants the skills to increase their physical literacy and build a love for fitness, helping youth with disabilities develop and maintain healthy habits and think of exercise as fun.
As for Kiera, Stephanie says she now finds her exercising on her own to music, even when she’s not in class.
“I’m really pleased to see Kiera developing healthy habits that she enjoys and can do on her own. That’s such a great life skill.”
Families can register for free MOVE Try It sessions on the first and third Tuesday of each month.
Visit goodlifekids.com/move to register and learn more.
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MOVE by GoodLife Kids has been designed exclusively to get youth with disabilities active, and is offered free to families. Once registered, participants get access to 3 live online small group sessions each week led by one of our passionate coaches. MOVE is for youth ages 12 – 21 years with intellectual disabilities or autism. NOW accepting participant applications for MOVE!