Photo by JONATHAN GUIGNARD/Advocate staff Bob Schurman and his daughter Matea, 7, spent Saturday morning enjoying a day of sporting activities. Matea deals with autism and the adapted physical activity program at Red Deer College has allowed her to stay active in a supportive setting.

Adapting physical activities for children with disabilities

A Red Deer College-run program helps level the playing field for children

Having a child with a disability can sometimes be challenging but a program at Red Deer College is making life easier for parents.

Bob Schurman’s daughter Matea, 7, struggles with autism and the adapted physical activity program allows her to stay active and to interact with other children facing similar challenges.

“It’s been very good for us because she can’t take part in regular sports programs,” said Schurman. “She can run and yell and do whatever she needs to do. Things that you wouldn’t be able to do in other programs,”

Schurman said he doesn’t have to worry about what other people think. He said the program has been positive for his entire family.

“We bring all three kids. Matea is the only one with autism, but they all love it. We can be as loud we want, the kids can have tantrums, they can laugh and giggle and play on the floor,” said Schurman.

“We’re always welcome. No one is looking and staring, which is what we get everywhere else we go. It’s a safe place to be.”

The college-run program provides free therapy to families whose kids are experiencing cognitive, physical or behavioural disabilities.

“It’s a place where the community can come and feel like their kids have the ability to be successful and challenged in a supportive setting,” said Brandi Heather, adapted physical education instructor at Red Deer College.

The program is run by the college’s kinesiology students and is a partnership between kinesiology students specializing in sports, the Red Deer Children Adapted Sport Association and RDC. It’s been running for the past four years.

“They all get the opportunity to spend 10 hours watching and participating in their first year. In their second year, if they specialize in adapted physical education and activity, they’ll be the teachers leading the program,” said Heather.

The last session of the semester took place Saturday morning, with the program starting up again in the new year.

For more information contact Heather contact at 403-342-3479.

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