TSC Youth Connect

The Cause

We know that supporting the social well-being of people living with disabilities in Alberta is vital to maintaining an inclusive community. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the social well-being of Albertans living with disabilities has been compromised as they remain at home, with little to no access to the programs and services that facilitate regular social connections and provide accessible and inclusive physical activity and recreation. TSC Together will focus on youth and young adults with disabilities aged 15 to 30 who are at a critical time for developing the skills to adapt to stress and feel empowered to be able to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic and as communities begin to reopen and Return to Activity.

TSC Together will support young adults with disabilities to adapt to the stress they have experienced in the COVID-19 pandemic by using a virtual platform to bring together small groups of young people to connect, socialize, and be active together. This facilitated online program will encourage peer-led support and build capacity in individuals to address the adverse effects of the pandemic crisis by protecting and promoting psycho-social well-being and resilience. Depending on the provincial health recommendations, this program may be delivered in person or may be transitioned to in person delivery during its duration.

This weekly program will bring together small groups of young adults with disabilities using the virtual platform Zoom. The one-hour sessions will include 30 minutes of facilitated discussion about topics related to social well-being and mental health (e.g., using meditation, strategies for coping with uncertainty) and 30 minutes of physical activity (including stretching, strength training, and cardio-type activities. With a strong link between exercise and mental health, the physical activity component may play an important role in the well-being of participants. Participants in TSC Together will be encouraged to be involved in activity selection and may lead activities or discussions as it fits with their skills and comfort level. Over the course of the 10 week program, participants will discuss how to continue social connections outside of the program to further enhance social well-being. This will be a key component to encourage resiliency as participants identify key connections and supports that they have access to in the community, beyond the program.

Who Will it Benefit?

Youth and young adults aged 15 to 30 years who have physical, developmental, or sensory impairments. These young people are in a critical period in their lives where they are transitioning to adulthood. Fostering the development of positive social skills, resiliency, and regular physical activity behaviours will ensure youth and young adults experiencing disability are prepared to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is also a benefit for family members and caregivers as they may experience respite from their caregiver role during program times. They may also experience enhanced relationships with the young people in their lives as they learn new skills and participate in physical activity together.

Undergraduate student volunteers from the University of Alberta will be invited to support the program delivery which means that future professionals will gain valuable experience learning with and from young people experiencing disability.