Volunteering with the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC’s Adapted Yoga Program in Vancouver has been a rewarding experience for Marissa Weismiller, whose assistance contributes to participants’ overall happiness, well-being and enjoyment of the class.
Marissa believes that it’s not just participants that benefit from the yoga session at Christ Church Cathedral, but instructors and other volunteers as well. “Everyone gets a chance to participate at some point, creating an inclusive and equitable environment,” she says. “Everyone benefits from the strength training, flexibility, and meditation aspects of the class, where Toni and Maggie teach many exercises that can be done at home, further encouraging the benefits that yoga can provide on more than just the one class that is offered per week.”
She has seen the progress made by the yoga participants firsthand, indicating that the supportive environment stimulates growth and helps the participants—many of whom are friends—to push each other to do better. Marissa asserts that everyone is able to fully participate in the class, since every move can be adapted to each individual.
The kinesiology student studying at the University of British Columbia (UBC) strongly believes in CPABC’s motto “Life Without Limits” and the belief that there should be equal opportunity for everyone. She notes that when she was growing up, everyone she knew was active through soccer, gymnastics, or swimming.
“I think that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in their activity of choice, despite any disability that may prevent them from doing so,” says Marissa. “Adapting certain programs such as yoga, allows everyone to feel a part of the community, while reaping the (physical and social) benefits that these programs have to offer.”
Improvement, independence and interaction
She is glad that the Association provides this type of programming, pointing out physical benefits such as improved flexibility. A lot of the participants sit in a wheelchair for the majority of the day, and the yoga program helps to stretch and strengthen muscles not utilized on a regular basis, contributing to increased functional independence.
Marissa adds that the yoga class also serves as an interactive activity which provides opportunities to connect with others in the disabled community and promote increased participation. CPABC is grateful that Marissa plans to continue helping out at the yoga program until the completion of her degree, and make a difference in the lives of those living with cerebral palsy.
Learn more about our Adapted Yoga Program