SportFIT helps Emma bounce back

Emma loves basketball. The energetic 15-year-old loves flying down the court in her wheelchair. For her, there’s no sweeter sound than the ball hitting nothing but net.

But last summer, returning to the court scared her. Emma has cerebral palsy and major hip surgery forced her to avoid sports of any kind for several months.

“I hadn't played sports for so long,” she said. “Even if I wanted to play, I knew that it would be difficult because I had lost a lot of strength.”

Nervousness aside, she was determined to get active again, so she took part in Holland Bloorview’s inaugural SportFIT & Recreation Camp last July.

She credits SportFIT with raising her heart rate, her strength and mobility, and her spirits.

SportFIT: sport-driven therapy

SportFIT is a two-week, full-day intensive therapy camp that gives kids with cerebral palsy the chance to be active and social. Kids and youth like Emma benefit from an intensive therapy experience that’s fun, motivating and inclusive.

SportFIT participants get their hearts pumping with more than 60 hours of physical activity through adapted sports and recreation activities, including an exciting new fitness innovation called CP Exergames.

This amazing technology combines video games with physical exercise with participants using a specially-designed stationary bike that’s linked to a computer.

From one court to another

Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic also likes to fly across a court, albeit a different one.

He was moved by Emma’s story and her courage, and saw the positive impact the SportFIT program had on her and the other participants.

That’s why the Milos Raonic Foundation donated over $31,000 to add to the over $18,500 generated from public donations to cover the full program cost for next year’s SportFIT camp, so that it can help even more kids like Emma.

Goals before getting going

Before Emma even started SportFIT, she worked with camp physiotherapists to set personal goals.

“My most important one was to be faster,” she stressed.

SportFIT staff then worked with all participants to reach their personal goals through morning physiotherapy sessions, CP Exergame biking, and trying different adaptive sports every afternoon.

Emma and her fellow campers broke a sweat through rock-climbing, swimming, dance, rowing and seated volleyball.

“Checking out all of these sports and biking on the CP Exergames was a really awesome way for me to regain some strength,” said Emma.

Goals before getting going

Emma hits the hardwood

Feeling stronger and more sure of herself, Emma was ready to take her best shot and play wheelchair basketball. Needless to say, she didn’t hold back.

“I think I freaked out a couple of the physios and recreation staff with my need for speed…things got a little intense during scrimmages,” she said.

And Emma wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I’ve been coming to Holland Bloorview for physiotherapy, swimming lessons and different summer camps since I was eighteen months old,” she said. “But I have to say that SportFIT is the most fun!

“SportFIT gave me the confidence to get active again,” she added, thinking nothing of the bumps and bruises she received along the way. “And yes, I got a little faster, too,” she said.