Through its innovative programming, Abilities Centre supports all levels of participation, from tots and toddlers to high performance Paralympic and Olympic athletes, and everything in between.
Over the past year the Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) team has taken the learnings from the past 5 years to revamp the Vision and Mission.
|The Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) will create alignment between the education and provincial & national sport system supporting targeted student athletes on able-bodied, Paralympic, and Special Olympic performance pathways by removing barriers to ensure equitable access to high performance programming.
|To deliver a high-performance program with a team of experts and leaders in the Canadian Sport system that work in collaboration to develop talented student athletes in a dedicated training environment. The program fosters the opportunity for individuals to achieve their personal goals in athletic performance, sport performance, academics and life. Every individual involved with the program embodies the vision of inclusion and is unwavering in their commitment to positively impact themselves, their sport and the community.
COVID-19 Challenges and Program Impact
ASAD’s 2020 – 2021 school year has required a mix of both virtual and in person learning, while the sports psychology, nutrition and mental health seminars continued virtually.
ASAD’s athletics, strength & conditioning and technical training continued throughout the school year in-person with COVID protocols, and during periods of lockdown, students were supported in a virtual environment (home training and video analysis).
From the mid-year evaluation, majority of parents and students indicated there was a 60% enhancement seen in confidence. 85% of respondents indicated they met a short or mid term goal based on the athletic skill development. Additionally, 77% had an increase in motivation for the Strength and Conditioning sessions since the start of the school year. 77% also learned a new skill through the Strength and Conditioning sessions.
Sport Streams Include:
Nic Gray joined Abilities Centre’s Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) as the new full time Strength & Conditioning Practitioner in August 2020. Providing a dedicated staff member allowed Abilities Centre to support the growing number of student athletes enrolled in the program and create a direct link with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO). This connection allows for a developing relationship to ensure quality program development, delivery and alignment of ASAD programming.
|Q: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Nic: My name is Nic Gray, I have spent almost ten years working with athletes at the collegiate (CCAA), university (U Sports and NCAA), professional (AHL and NHL), Olympic and Paralympic (Athletics Canada) levels.
Q: What is your role with ASAD and relationship with CSIO?
Nic: I am the Strength and Conditioning Practitioner with the ASAD. As part of the partnership between ASAD and the CSIO is an on-going professional mentorship, engaging in conversations focused around the development and advancement of the athletic pillar of the ASAD program. CSIO also meets with all ASAD staff, and other Abilities Centre staff, on topics pertaining to the advancement of the holistic Academy.
Q: What novel aspects has this relationship brought to the strength and conditioning section of ASAD?
Nic: This partnership is a direct benefit to the students, as the programming maintains alignment, direction, and guidance from the provincial and national sport landscape. CSIO has informed our development of durable skills, which are transferable skills that will continue to develop throughout a students career and provide invaluable impact on their work, personal, and day to day life. These skills have strategically become embedded throughout all of the programming delivered at the Academy. This partnership has also connected us with other practitioners across various sports within the National Sport Organization (NSO) network, which further strengthens the alignment between ASAD and the national sport pathways. The partnership between the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and the Academy for Student Athlete Development will provided lasting, transformative, positive impact for students at the Academy.
You. Me. We.
You. Me. We. Virtually Together
Provides inclusive and safe programming across the province for children and youth aged 5 – 12, to engage in physical activity and social interaction during an age when these fundamental elements are important to physical and mental health.
AC programing, including You. Me. We., focuses on capturing Spark Moments which are the hidden flames in individuals that excite them and tap into their true passions, what motivates and inspires their authentic passions, talents, assets, skills and dreams. Spark moments can be musical, athletic, intellectual, academic or relational.
*Benson, P. 2011, April 22, TEDxTC – Peter Benson – Sparks: How Youth Thrive. (video). YouTube
Spark Moments from You. Me. We:
You. Me. We. Virtual Schools Challenge
Abilities Centre and Abilities Centre Ottawa partnered with funding support provided by Canadian Tire Jumpstart’s Sport Relief Fund to create a series of virtual field trips, which supported the facilitation of inclusive physical education classes for both elementary and secondary schools across Ontario. The ultimate goal of the program was to support teachers in creating excitement for physical activity and to highlight, through inclusive programming, the variety of ways youth can be active even when participating in virtual academic learning.
Field trips consisted of:
- Three weeks of physical education curriculum-based resources for teachers with a focus on:
- Each video series features 4 instructional videos and includes a class challenge at the conclusion of the 4th video
7 regions within Ontario and Edmonton (Durham; Ottawa; Kawartha Leeds & Greenville; Halton; Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry; York; Renfrew)
Mixed Ability Sport
Mixed Ability Sport (MAS) takes an innovative approach to breaking down societal barriers and radically changing the way we think of, join in, and enjoy sports.
Currently exploring a blended model of virtual and in person to assist Rugby, Boxing, Archery, Para Cycling, Dance and Canoeing on their Mixed Ability Journey.
Abilities Centre continues to grow our working relationship with our international partners, ‘International Mixed Ability Sport’ (IMAS) as we grow Mixed Ability Sport across Canada. Continued collaboration with IMAS has created opportunities for the Canadian Mixed Ability Sport Development team to connect with their counterparts in the UK as well as tying into shared social media content, participation in virtual events, and combined research projects.
Sign the Manifesto
Abilities Centre Member
Amanda Power discussing Mixed Ability Pickleball
|Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Amanda Power I am 25 years old. I’ve been sports for since I was probably 9 years old. I started with Horseback riding for 17 years but had to stop. Two years after that I found Pickleball—in January 2020. I played with the Abilities Centre for 3 months before our first lockdown. I started playing again in September until the next lockdown and haven’t played since. I enjoy being in the outdoors as well whether it is hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking. I just love going on adventures with my dog and friends. Once there is warm weather I am always outside.
How did you get into the sport of Pickleball?
It’s the funniest thing. I go into the gym [Abilities Centre]. I’m in a wheelchair semi-part time. I saw it being played and thought this is kind of cool, so I ask one of the people playing ‘What is this?’, and they kind of explained it to me. Then I talked to the head person there, Alex, and he gave me a Pickleball 101 kind of intro. Then he offered, do you want to try and see if you can try in your wheelchair? I’m like, Ok, sure and then started figuring it out. He was like, Okay, come back the next time we play and we will give you the full run down. From then on I kind of grew addicted to it.
Can you tell me about your experience playing Pickleball at Abilities Centre?
I’m not going to lie, its fantastic. At first nobody wanted to play with me, but then Alex gave me private lessons on the other court. Everyone saw and everyone was like, Oh wait, she’s getting private lessons, I want private lessons! So then we got a few other people and once I got better and better they were like, Oh wait, she’s good. Let’s keep playing with her. We have a mini team now. Right now there’s [a small number of] people in Ontario playing para-Pickleball. Some are at Abilities Centre. So hopefully with our Mixed Ability Sport initiative we are going to get more and more players of all abilities playing together. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in North America right now, so we want to make it more inclusive for everyone—so treat everyone like you want to be respected. We want to make it so that its for everyone but still keep it the sport that it is.
Can you tell me about the relationships you’ve developed through playing Pickleball?
So the friendships I’ve made through Pickleball is unbelievable. Once I met some of the players, the high end players, they started inviting me to their playing sessions and just hanging out. They taught me some things. The Pickleball community is so friendly and basically its one big family. At Abilities Centre and outside of the Centre is where I met my people and my friends—the Pickleball support system.
What do you want people to know about your journey with sport?
Honestly, with any sport, if you want to do something, go try it! If you like it, great! If not, let’s try a different sport. Cause sport has helped me be, like, more myself. So any sport, like Pickleball for me, if you want to go watch it, watch it first, see what you think of it. Talk to a player or a coach ask questions, and then if you want to try and play, great! One of us will be there to help.
Has it made a difference in your life?
It has made me happier. It brought back my competitiveness, will not lie, I lost it because I used to horseback ride and I used to compete in horseback riding. So then once I found Pickleball it brought back my competitiveness and drive for sport.
COVID-19 Challenges and Programming Impact
The implementation of Mixed Ability Sport Coaching Clinic was put on hold, until April 2021.
Exploring a blended model of virtual and in person to assist Rugby, Boxing, Archery, Para Cycling, Dance and Canoeing on their Mixed Ability Journey.
Mixed Ability concepts have been incorporated into the Community and Post-secondary Inclusion workshop
to encourage professionals in challenging their assumptions and bias, and present future opportunities for involvement in MAS
- Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club
- Rugby Ontario
- London RFC
- Burlington Centaurs RFC
- Muddy York RFC
- Coaches Association Ontario (CAO)
Following last years Learn to Play Mixed Ability Rugby program, Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club implemented a Mixed Ability team. On average over the past year they have had 17 individuals out to play.
Check out our Mixed Ability Sport social media platforms to stay up to date and celebrate the growth and success of the MAS initiative!