There are 40 Boys and Girls Clubs from coast to coast that have joined the “Get in the Game” project to date, funded by Canadian Tire Jumpstart. With 100 clubs ultimately expected to sign on, this project aims to help staff provide more inclusive physical activity and sports programming for youth of all abilities. Club staff receive customized in-person training, access to expert-designed inclusive lesson plans, ongoing mentorship, and a grant to fund their own local inclusion initiative.
Organizers are already witnessing the impact on local communities.
“Sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn when you have questions about supporting, say, a child with a visual impairment or one that uses a wheelchair,” says Amie Renaud, lead inclusion mentor at Sport for Life.
“With this project, the clubs can connect with me if they have any questions, and then we troubleshoot and I make recommendations.”
Before this, some clubs found themselves up against educational and financial barriers when it came to inclusivity. Now they have access to regular mentorship sessions with expert guest speakers, one-on-one support, and the financial backing to realize their inclusion goals. Each club has earmarked their funding for a particular initiative, whether it’s purchasing new equipment or introducing a new program.
“Each club is unique. There are 40 clubs onboard and each one is doing something different. Some are focusing on multisport in the gym, some are focusing on embracing winter and doing things like inclusive snowshoeing,” says Renaud.
“With so many different sports and physical activity opportunities available, more youth of all ages will be impacted.”
Renaud previously taught sailing to people with disabilities for 10 years, and she’s seen the benefit of making sure everyone’s included.
“You can’t refute the power of inclusivity once you’ve seen the benefit. It just makes sense.”