Igniting Fitness Possibilities at Holland Bloorview

I wonder if we all have that childhood gym class or recess memory, being among the last picked to participate in a team event or game, or maybe just cringing being paranoid that would be your fate. If you, like my husband and son, grew up with a natural ability for sport you probably have only seen that play out on TV. If, like me, you fumbled more than flourished on the field, the memory sticks. While I wasn’t the unfortunate last picked at recess, I definitely wasn’t a star-player. Athelticism wasn’t natural to me, a girl who would much rather have her face in a book than on the field. Still, my dad took me dutifully to softball or volleyball practice and I enjoyed the physical activity even though I wasn’t very good at it.

IFP Logo

While not having a talent for a particular sport or game is one thing, having a disability can cause a child to have even more apprehension about trying a group sport or activity. Holland Bloorview, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, excels at providing treatment, research and education services in the area of kids disability. A new program created at the hospital called Igniting Fitness Possibilities is getting a lot of buzz, for good reason! Check out the video below:

Holland Bloorview X National Bank from Jimmy Lee on Vimeo.

Igniting Fitness Possibilities (IFP) is an inclusive program that is designed to mobilize kids with and without disabilities to engage with and foster a passion for physical activity.

IFP is comprised of two programs (QuickStart and Give it a Try) and each of the sessions are supported by knowledgeable instructors and aim to develop participants’ sport-based skills. The sessions also consist of non-competitive teamwork-based games that are grounded in reaching a session-specific “group goal”. I love this!

The program got off the ground, thanks to a pledge of $100,000 from The National Bank in five years to bring IFP to more communities in the GTA. This monetary contribution greatly aligns with National Bank’s ongoing commitment to support communities across Canada and provide crucial support to organizations in the areas of health, education, arts and culture, and community wellbeing.

IFP Holland Bloorview


  • It was so much fun. We got to be creative and it was like we were the leaders and I liked [name of two participants’] game – it was fun.

Participants (grades 6-8):

  • You weren’t judged for anything you did. Like if you were really bad at something you could still play. At school if you are really bad at something you’re like oh my god I can’t play it, but here you were the same as everyone else. I liked it when we could make our own games in the program and I like the obstacle courses and the fitness games at the beginning.
  • I learned that fitness isn’t bad at all. Before I started I always hated fitness and doing boring old things like jumping jacks and push- ups, but I guess when [my coach] talked about things it kind of cleared things up and made fitness more fun.
  • I felt like I wasn’t moving enough before the program. I just sat on my bed and played with my phone. It helped knowing that I could be somewhere, being active, and adapt things the way I need them.


  • A few times he was in a horrible mood [before IFP] and was very withdrawn. He was just very stressed about things due at school and when we got here it was a complete 180. He came running in and was diving through hula hoops, and I was like ‘this is my kid who was upset in the car?’ And he created that game, and that he presented it; he’s a different kid… he feels the confidence here. I definitely think it helped him to see the options out there; that you can do it and be creative with it.

What a great initiative at Holland Bloorview! I’m so happy to see all kids getting involved in sport, with the help of knowledgable professionals along the way. I can’t wait to see more! More details about this inclusive and innovative program can be found at the Holland Bloorview Website!


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