Part of The Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta, Free2BMe actively supports inclusion and independence for children and youth living with impairments. Staff and volunteers create individualized plans for each participant, based on research and adapted to whatever the child needs. Activities include working individually with a counsellor, using specialized gym equipment in a group class or joining a sports camp.
Jumping Right In with Free2BMe
When she was seven years old, Morgan Cathcart longed to join her friends playing skipping games during school recess. Her spina bifida meant her legs weren’t strong enough to join in the game. So she stood off to the side, feeling left out and isolated.
“My damaged spine and partial paralysis meant my legs didn’t know what to do,” remembers Cathcart. “My mom heard about Free2BMe where, with a coach, I built up the strength in my legs and practiced those skills so that I could join in the fun at school.”
An avid swimmer, Cathcart also worked with her Free2BMe coach to teach her legs to push off from the pool wall. She swam five seasons on an able-bodied competitive team before joining The Steadward Bears ParaSwim Team. She recently scored a national-qualifier time at the Rio Summer Olympic and Paralympic trials.
Cathcart now uses a wheelchair for safety and increased mobility, especially at university where she is studying to become a special education teacher. “Free2BMe is the starting place, where you can learn what your capabilities are,” she says. “Everyone should have the ability to learn how to move like you need to be able to move.”
The Impact of Your Donation
“Adapting a program or a place for individuals with different abilities to work out, train, participate or play is far more than accommodating access,” says says Dr. Robert Steadward, founder of The Steadward Centre. “It is a philosophy. It is seeing the possibilities that an individual can achieve.”
Free2BMe gets kids off the sidelines and into the game through research-based programming tailored to meet the child’s individualized needs. The one-on-one instruction is not available anywhere else in North America. Your support is needed to continue delivering highly successful, individualized programs for kids experiencing disability.
How to Help
The 600 kids who come to Free2BMe each year need your help.
Our goal is to raise $100,000 per year to support our quality programming. This will fund:
- Adapted Physical Activity Consultants
- trained volunteers to ensure 1:1 support is available as needed
- specialized equipment
- affordable program fees