Choosing to be Active Means Choosing Success
Every child—regardless of physical condition—deserves the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. This is the vision of Be Your Best (Choisir de Gagner).
Created in 2012, Choosing to Win motivates young people with disabilities to adopt healthy living habits. By proving that those with disabilities aren’t limited to sedentary lives, Choosing to Win helps entire communities realize that being disabled doesn’t mean being left on the sidelines.
“This project is really great. It’s a program created for youth with disabilities to teach them healthy living habits while encouraging them to have fun,” says Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli, the program’s ambassador and world-renowned break dancer—who, due to a neuromuscular disorder, has limited use in his legs. “The happiness you see on their faces when they participate in these activities leaves me speechless.”
Motivating young people to adopt healthy habits means meeting them where they are. The Be Your Best team tours schools and rehabilitation centers to show children the opportunities that are available to them. Kids can try adapted sports, learn about healthy living habits through games and dance with Lazylegz and his dance group.
Be Your Best also develops partnerships within the education and health sectors. Conferences and networking events are organized each year. Community meetings help participants find a balance between adapting the program for youth with disabilities and achieving social integration. And, the project facilitates youth participation in the Défi sportif AlterGo competition, a large annual event in Montreal that gathers thousands of elite athletes—with and without disabilities.
Be Your Best even has a mascot, WalterGo, who keeps an online journal through which children can learn more about healthy living habits. And, there are tools and resources online to get youth with disabilities active.
“What I first try to explain to young people is the important role that sports play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle—both for mental and physical health,” explains Chantal Petitclerc, a Paralympic athlete who has been involved in the Défi sportif AlterGo for 15 years. “With so many obstacles—wheelchairs, unaccommodating architecture, even the snow—this is even more vital for autonomy when one has a handicap.”
Editor's Note: This blog post was written by Chantal Comeau, the Chief Communications Office of AlterGo. She is also a participant of The Play Exchange, an online challenge to find and support innovative ideas promoting healthy and active living across Canada.
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