This summer the Titans teamed up with a new, local non-profit called Ausome Ottawa, to introduce our sport to youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Ausome Ottawa was created by an Ottawa family in order to “provide sports and recreation programs for individuals and families living with autism, and to build awareness in the community with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for these families.”
ASD is a condition that affects 1 in 68 Canadian children. Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder (sometimes referred to as “classic autism”), Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
Although water polo was not an obvious sport for Ausome Ottawa participants, given the possible difficulties with sensory input, motor coordination and attention; the collaboration was a huge success! Titans coaches Owen Kennedy, Jerry Tesanovic, Pierre Tremblay were joined by players Noah and Sarah Parks and Ausome Ottawa volunteers and staff for the inaugural program.
Each session began with teaching basic water polo swimming and ball handling skills ended with mini-scrimmages filled with laughter and smiles! Each player progressed at their own pace and by the end of the second session, players were confidently swimming with the ball, passing and developing game awareness.
The enthusiasm of several families in pursuing the sport after the session ended was another sign of the success of this collaboration "Our son is super interested in joining the Titans on Wednesdays at Splash this summer. This program has been so wonderful for him." This child continued water polo with Titans for several sessions over the summer.
Such participation demonstrates the importance of our community outreach but also the positive impact of the Titan’s community summer and regular season programming.
The Titans and Ausome Ottawa are proud to announce that registration has opened for a second program series scheduled for October 16, 23, 30! Please note, that we are still seeking volunteers who can commit to the October dates. Training will be provided, but no formal background is required for working with children with autism. Ausome Ottawa Program director and volunteer Anna Whyte also adds that secondary school students can receive community service credit for their participation in this program. You may contact Titans parent Sarah Parks or Program Director Anna Whyte for more information.
We are excited about this second opportunity to highlight our skilled Titans coaching staff and dedicated families and to show our active support for local community initiatives such as Ausome Ottawa. Titans hopes to make this an annual event; mutually supporting both organizations!
Check out the water polo session video created by Ausome Ottawa volunteer and videographer Jason Naylor:
Ausome Ottawa family quote: "Congratulations and thank you for facilitating William's participation in a high sensory sport like water polo. Big kudos to the Titan volunteers for making it safe, comfortable and above all fun for William and his friends."
Ausome Ottawa Program Director Anna Whyte: "I was unfamiliar with water polo and the logistics of the game. The Titans water polo crew were so fun, helpful and professional. They helped us all learn a new sport while having a ton of fun. Not only did they help the kids develop their swimming, throwing and catching skills; they helped the kids develop a really great understanding of what a team sport should look like. It was so Ausome seeing these kids become athletes in the water. Can't wait to continue this program"
"The Titans fun and enthusiastic attitudes made the Ausome Water Polo program one to remember. We were all able to learn new skills in the pool and get a great workout! Seeing the kids build confidence in the pool and in their own abilities was incredible."