Fitness for all Abilities

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Fitness for all Abilities: Accessible Fitness Facility

Greater Sudbury, CanadaGreater Sudbury, Canada
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Fitness for all Abilities initiative will break down the physical, financial, and attitudinal barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in physical activity. The initiative will create a fully accessible fitness facility that will be accessible at an affordable cost.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in physical activity were removed and persons with disabilities had equal access to the mental, physical and social benefits that physical activity provides?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A 2012 report from the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights indicates that rates of regular physical activity among Canadians with disabilities are as low as 3%. The report lists the lack of accessible facilities, increased cost for specialized equipment, and a lack of information regarding sport opportunities that do exist as major barriers to participation. Currently there is no fully accessible fitness facility in Greater Sudbury.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Accessible Fitness Facility will break down the physical barriers that limit access to physical fitness by creating a fully accessible barrier free fitness facility. The facility will include; an accessible entrance, accessible fitness equipment, accessible fitness classroom, accessible sauna, and change rooms. The financial barriers will be addressed by providing a low cost membership fee. Attitudinal barriers will be addressed by hiring an Adaptive Fitness Coordinator who will coordinate fitness activities and create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and acceptance. The Accessible Fitness Facility and the health benefits of an active lifestyle will be marketed to maximize the number of persons engaged in physical activity.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Participants in the current Accessible Sports Program have experienced the health benefits of an active lifestyle. A man with a physical and mental disability struggled with putting on weight and eating regularly. Since he started in the program he has gained weight, is eating regularly and has quit smoking! A woman who is overweight was able to lose 30 pounds since she started participating in the Accessible Sports Program. She says that the exercise has changed the way she views herself and has given her a sense of accomplishment and confidence. A woman who uses a wheelchair said that having a place to do activities where everyone accepts each other for who they are has made her feel comfortable exercising in public.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The current Accessible Sports Program has created an Accessible Sports Directory and two Accessible Sports Expos which will provide information on the accessible sports and fitness activities offered in Greater Sudbury as well as the health benefits that can assist and encourage persons with disabilities to become active. In order to maximize participation and engage persons with disabilities to become physically active the expo, fitness opportunities and benefits are being marketed. ILSM’s Accessible Sports Program provides opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in a variety of physical activities which include; swimming, adaptive rowing, bowling, adapted skiing, table tennis, and adapted yoga. The Accessible Sports Program has provided 300 physical activity opportunities and has had 200 participants since the program’s inception in September 2013.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The Accessible Fitness Facility will promote accessibility in sports and fitness facilities. ILSM will create a report summarizing the lessons learned about creating accessibility in a fitness organization. We will share this report with our community partners and our network of Independent Living Resource Centers across Canada. Organizations in Ontario will have to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Our Accessible fitness center will serve as a model for other organizations on how to incorporate accessibility.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

To ensure sustainability ILSM has successfully become a social enterprise. ILSM owns its own building and leases over 50% of the space. The revenue this creates has helped to pay for the building and the programs we administer. To ensure the financial sustainability of the Accessible Fitness Facility ILSM will engage in social enterprising by collecting revenue generated from membership fees and the leasing of the buildings remaining space.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many fitness facilities in Greater Sudbury that offer an array of services however, there are no facilities designed to fully meet the needs of persons with disabilities. ILSM’s Accessible Fitness Facility will provide fitness equipment and programs that are fully accessible and barrier free. Many of our current partners offer adaptive sports which include; sledge hockey, adaptive skiing, and wheelchair curling. An accessible fitness facility will complement these programs by creating an appropriate facility where the athletes can train.

Founding Story

ILSM currently runs an accessible sports program. The goals of this program are to promote adaptive sports in Greater Sudbury and increase participation in physical activity. As part of the program ILSM purchased passes to a local gym. The results of creating access to the gym has been very encouraging with many participants excited about the health benefits that they now enjoy. However, it soon became very clear that for many of the participants there are physical and attitudinal barriers to attending a typical gym. A workout room was set up at ILSM to accommodate the participants who were unable or unwilling to access the gym. The response was profound. The small workout room is now used by 100 people.


ILSM has a diverse elected Board of Directors with a variety of experience and expertise. Currently ILSM has 6 full time employees which include the Executive Director, Direct Funding Administrator, Custodian, Cook, Marketing Coordinator, and Adaptive Sports Coordinator. The ILSM team will work together to ensure the success of the Fitness for all Abilities initiative.