Team Ausome is running to create more spaces in their much-needed programs
Spring has arrived and Ausome Ottawa is gearing up for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, one of the charity’s favourite events of the year. Since 2017, children with autism and their families from throughout the National Capital Region have come together to walk, run and cheer each other on as Team Ausome, and raise awareness and funds along the way.
Many children with autism face barriers to accessing sport and recreation opportunities due to a lack of training and resources in school and community programs. Ausome Ottawa was founded in 2015 to remove those barriers by creating programs specifically designed to provide a welcoming and supported environment for every child to meaningfully participate and succeed, and at no cost to families. It also trains educators, coaches, leagues and facility operators on how to better understand autism and make their own sports and recreation programs more inclusive.
As Executive Director Jamie Logue explains, Ausome Ottawa is more than sports. “We’re about building courage, connection and community—on and off the field of play. Where children grow their courage muscles, confidence and independence. Where meaningful connections and friendships form between teammates and families. And where we come together as a community to build an autism-inclusive future.”
When the pandemic hit, it threatened to put all of that on hold at a time when it was needed most. Staying active and connected to others suddenly became more critical than ever to maintaining our mental and physical health. Yet those barriers to activity not only remained for children with autism, they went higher, as did the social isolation they already disproportionately experience.
So Ausome Ottawa responded quickly with creative solutions that have kept its athletes and families playing and sweating together in modified outdoor and live virtual programs. But there are still many more children in our community who haven’t had their chance to play yet. “Our programs already filled up within minutes pre-COVID. Since then, gathering limits have meant even fewer athletes allowed per program and even more children now on waitlists for spaces.” Logue further notes, “our virtual live, interactive programs are popular, but engaging with a screen can range from difficult to not possible for some.”
That’s why Team Ausome is doubly excited to be back in person for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. “Not only will this be the first time in more than two years that we’ve been able to be together as one big team—athletes, families, staff, volunteers, coaches, partners, donors and supporters,” Logue says, “as an official charity partner, we’re also running to raise funds to create more spaces in our spring and summer programs, so that more children will get their chance to play too.”
Programs like its Family Run Club, where children practice physical literacy and learn proper running form through fun games and activities right alongside their family members. Every week, the Ausome coach, staff and volunteers lead the group through lesson plans that let everyone set their own goals while building up their confidence and endurance. And this year, the group will have the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend as a goal to work towards!
14-year-old William is one of many Ausome athletes who can’t wait for race day. Through years of Run Club and other programs, William has not only learned how to run, he has learned to love it. Last fall, he set a new personal best by completing his first 5K run—and he did it in an amazing 23 minutes! Now, with running mate Dad by his side, he has his eyes set on a new personal best. That’s the kind of life-changing impact that Ausome Ottawa works to make in the lives of all its athletes and families.
Are you looking for a great cause to run and fundraise for this Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend? Join Team Ausome and help them hit their fundraising goal of getting more children like William active this summer and creating a more autism-inclusive community for all.