A yoga class for children with disabilities is expanding in response to what parents say is a growing need for recreation opportunities for their kids.
Gail Gagne has been offering a yoga program at the Glenwood Community Centre for children with developmental disabilities for the past year — a program parents say was sorely needed.
Yoga for the Special Child currently has three children with autism and another with developmental challenges. Gagne rents space from the community centre for the classes.
Lisa Brunet brings her eight-year-old daughter Zora to the class.
"Zora has a global developmental delay, low muscle tone and moderate hearing loss in her right ear," said Brunet.
But with the help of the class, Zora’s motor skills are improving and she’s a happier, healthier child.
"She’s able to kind of run a little bit better, climb things," Brunet said.
Parent Leslie Candy said her 11-year-old son Justin has also seen benefits from the program.
Justin has autism and requires help to stay focused and socialize.
"I think [the class] calms him a little bit," said Candy.
She said competitive sports aren’t an option for her son, so it’s difficult to find recreation options for him.
"It’s hard to watch other parents say, ‘Oh we’re going to hockey this weekend, or soccer,’ and your kids are not involved in that," said Candy.
She said the classes have also helped her bond with other parents going through similar challenges.
Brunet said the benefits highlight the need for more options for children like Zora and Justin.
"They just don’t have the staff. They don’t have the facilities to be able to help kids with special needs," said Brunet.
"I think they kind of get a little scared and like, ‘Oh, no. We can’t handle that.’"
For now, the yoga classes are offered in small groups or one-on-one sessions.
Gagne said she's optimistic the program will continue to expand.
"I’m hoping that it becomes more popular here," said Gagne.