The Ability Friendly Sports Program was first introduced in early 2018 in the form of adapted swimming and football programming for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Within one term, we quickly realized that the potential impact of the program on the local community was significantly wider. Consequently, we immediately adopted the program to cater to any and all members of society with specific needs, from young athletes with ASD and Down syndrome to wheelchair users and people with learning disabilities.
Operational for more than two years to date, the Ability Friendly Sports Program fulfills a very critical need in society for adapted sports-based education. It has expanded its scope to delivering workshops and developing programs that enable coaches to adapt their sports training to people with different needs. The program continues to grow stronger with the mission to ensure that athletes of all abilities are granted appropriate access to developmental sporting opportunities.
The sports program not only captured the attention of families in the autism community but also received strong interest from families with children of other abilities. As a result, it was a natural next step to transition into the present-day Ability Friendly Sports Program, an inclusive program that incorporates swimming and football lessons not only tailored to children with autism but also adapted to a full range of ages and abilities.
In Terms 2 and 3, the Ability Friendly Sports Program secured significant progress and continued to fulfill its practical objectives. This was achieved in spite of the interruption to its on-site delivery activities during the social distancing period invoked by the State of Qatar. In this period, the program: Built the Foundations of a Resource Library The Ability Friendly Sports Program procured an online session-planning software, which enables coaches to build sample lesson plans integrated with images and videos. Coaches can now support each other with structured and detailed visual material, which can also be shared with participants and their families for prep work. Furthermore, the material can better support visual learners to understand the goals of their swimming sessions and thereby contribute to training a competitive squad.
Developed Virtual Programs During the Social Distancing Period
To maintain the rapport built with Ability Friendly athletes once on-site programs were stopped, the team developed virtual programs in the form of easy-to-perform, home-based exercises, practice strokes, and non-sports activities. In addition, we created a WhatsApp group with participating families to ease communication
Enhanced Sports Curricula and the Design of Assessment Reports
To adequately assess skill levels and increase training effectiveness for each uniquely abled athlete, the delivery framework has been further enhanced. This entailed further development of the curricula, reporting designs, terminology, assessment criteria, and other framework components (Appendices D, E, and F).
Strengthened the Volunteer Program
The Ability Friendly Volunteer Program has steadily expanded to 22 volunteers. The volunteers are enriching the quality of the sessions with their energy and skills and providing a more wholesome experience for Ability Friendly athletes.
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