On Sunday, May 18, 200 children with autism and their families joined players and representatives from each of Vancouver's four professional sports teams including the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, Vancouver Canadians and Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the second annual Canucks Autism Network Sports Day.
The children were all smiles as they spent the afternoon at BC Place, where they were able to participate in baseball, football, hockey and soccer in a safe and supportive environment. The children and their families had the opportunity to make new friends and grow their support networks, while developing valuable life skills.
For some children, this was their chance to participate in sports that they had never tried before. The children were delighted to see a few of their favourite professional athletes and were thrilled when they learned they would be taught by the athletes from Vancouver's teams.
‘Caps forward Kekuta Manneh, midfielder Matías Laba, and goalkeeper David Ousted joined players from the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, and Vancouver Canadians at the special sports day which united all four professional Vancouver sports teams under one roof. Each player demonstrated skills, provided support and engaged with the children to make it a unique and special experience for them.
Assistant coach Martyn Pert and club ambassador Carl Valentine also helped instruct the children as they dribbled the ball through cones, learned passing skills, and took shots on net. Beloved ‘Caps mascot, Spike, also got in on the action and ruffled some tail feathers, much to the delight of the children.
Canucks Autism Network reaches over 1,000 families per year through over 20 different programs. The numerous sports, social and recreational programs are offered for free to kids, teens and young adults with autism. With over 8500 children with autism in British Columbia alone, Canucks Autism Network does its best to provide support and bring joy to children with autism and their families.
Whitecaps FC is thankful to have been a part of this wonderful event, and looks forward to participating in next year’s Canucks Autism Network Sports Day!