English stories

SI Fitness Games : when training brings a smile to the face of adults with special needs

le mercredi 05 juin 2024
Modifié à
Par Michel Hersir


Some training sessions were scheduled inside the centre, while others took place outside. (Photo : Le Soleil - Michel Hersir)

Spirits were high at the Beyond MVMT training centre in Brossard on May 30. Under perfect weather conditions, some sixty adults with special needs took part in the SI Fitness Games, a friendly training competition. And beyond the physical prowess, it’s a really social and festive day.

Translation Amanda Bennett

For many, training is a way of improving their physical fitness and maintaining an active lifestyle. But for adults with intellectual disabilities, Down’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder, the benefits go beyond simple fitness. 

“The goal for students in social integration is to be as independent as possible. And the only way you can do that is if you’re physically autonomous. If you’re able to move around, get out of bed in the morning, take the groceries inside. Exercises like squats and farmer’s carry are movements that can be applied in real life,” said Marina Di Pratola, social integration teacher at Access school in Saint-Hubert.

Some training sessions were scheduled inside the centre, while others took place outside. In both cases, participants were happy to take part.


Each of the speakers we met during the day talked about the importance of the social side of such an event.

That was evident even before the exercises began, as students from the four participating schools gathered at the back of the centre, cheering and hugging each other.

Rebecca Collin, a teacher at Centre Nova de Châteauguay, emphasized the importance of this socialization while one of her students performed an exercise nearby.

“Usually, she doesn’t do these types of exercises, but she’s really into it here, because she’s with friends she doesn’t see very often. Their ear-to-ear grins are really something,” she said.

“They encourage each other a lot, they push each other, they laugh, side-splitting laughter! The team spirit is obvious. You can see the direct impact, they’re super happy when they go out. There aren’t many sports activities adapted for them, so it’s something we try to do differently,” recounted Marie Cardin, owner of the training centre.

Combining Two Passions

This was the 3rd edition of the SI Fitness Games. Marina Di Pratelo, who initiated the event, is also a trainer at Beyond MVMT and wanted to share her passion with her students.

“My students don’t necessarily have the opportunity to participate in events like this. Talking to Marie [Cardin], she said she wanted to partner with the community, so it really worked out well,” she explained.

“In CrossFit, there are the CrossFit Games, which are kind of like the CrossFit Olympics. So we thought, why don’t we do that?” added the teacher, pointing out that there are no performance expectations.

The result was the SI Fitness Games, which brought together two schools in its first year. For the 2024 edition, there were four schools from different English school boards in the Montreal area.

“We’re hoping for even more next year!” assured Marina Di Pratelo.

At the end of the day, there will be no SI Fitness Games winners. Just happy, healthier students who are already looking forward to the next edition.