High Schools Twinning Sports, Academics

On March 20, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the Abilities Centre hosted the first public information evening for the launch of the Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) in London.

First launched in Whitby in September 2016, ASAD supports student athletes in grades 9-12 as they pursue their academic and athletic aspirations at the provincial, national and international levels of competition.

Beginning in September 2018, London-area student athletes will have the opportunity to participate each day in athletic and sport-specific training at ASAD’s London training centre and attend classes at Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) schools. The TVDSB will deliver the academic component of ASAD, where each athlete will be provided with an individualized learning program that aligns with individual pathway plans.

Athletic and sports-specific training will be supported by Abilities Centre’s ASAD partners, including Elite Training Systems, NeuroChangers, Total Package Hockey as well as Provincial and National Sports Organizations.

“The Academy for Student Athlete Development provides a strong foundation in which student athletes can pursue their athletic and academic goals, whilst receiving the psychosocial benefits of a blended environment” says Stuart McReynolds, National Director, Academy for Student Athlete Development. “The launch of ASAD in London is the result of a true community effort. We would not be here today without the support of the TVDSB, our outstanding partners and the entire London community.”

“The TVDSB is proud to be a partner organization in the establishment of the Academy for Student Athlete Development in London,” says Paul McKenzie, Superintendent of Student Achievement. “We think this is an incredibly innovative way to help student athletes harness their talent, dedication and perseverance to succeed in sports and academics.”

ASAD is the world’s first school based sports academy to integrate and support student athletes that are participating in high-performance sports, parasports and Special Olympic sports. ASAD also strives to serve student athletes who face the greatest barriers to participation in sport. “Inclusion is vital to giving everyone the chance to be the best they can be,” says McReynolds. “We want to help every student athlete succeed in sport and life.”

About Abilities Centre

Abilities Centre is a charitable organization and internationally renowned, innovative community hub where people of all ages and abilities enrich their lives by engaging in social, health and cultural programs. Abilities Centre delivers sports, health and fitness, arts and culture, leading-edge research, education and life skills programming in a welcoming, positive, energetic environment. Abilities Centre is focused on bringing together families, friends and neighbours in a spirit of inclusion and opportunity. For more information about the Abilities Centre or to make a donation, please call 905-665-8500 or visit www.abilitiescentre.org.

Recognized as an International Centre of Excellence for its fully accessible design and inclusive environment, world-class partnerships and signature programming, the Abilities Centre offers sports, fitness, arts and life skills programming, as well as research and education opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

In recognition of the growing demand for quality high performance sport programming, alignment between the education and provincial & national sport systems, and the immediate need for inter sectoral collaboration, the Abilities Centre launched the Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) in September 2016 to provide targeted athletic and academic support to student athletes as they strive for success at provincial, national &
international levels of competition. The athletic program is designed and implemented in partnership with provincial & national sports organizations to ensure alignment to Long Term Athlete Development principles as well as effective periodization. The academic component of ASAD is delivered by partnering school boards, with support from ASAD staff. Each student athlete studies the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum.

In addition to providing a high performance daily training environment for student athletes, the Academy for
Student Athlete Development also provides coach development opportunities for high school coaches, in
addition to club coaches. Professional development opportunities are provided for interested school board staff, and partnering school boards will be invited to send classes to experience the high-performance environment at ASAD. The Academy for Student Athlete Development provides a strategic framework designed to strengthen high performance school sport, and is a model that will be implemented both provincially and nationally.

Daily Structure
Student athletes attending ASAD attend the host ASAD training facility for half of their school day and the other half is spent at a school within the partnering school board. Suitable transportation to and from school and the ASAD training facility will be discussed with each family prior to enrolment. Each student athlete that attends ASAD will be considered full time equivalency.

The partnering school board is responsible for delivering the academic component of ASAD. Each student
athlete is provided with an individualized learning program which aligns with their Individual Pathway Plans.
The individualized learning plan is designed in conjunction with ASAD staff, guidance counsellors at partner school boards, students, and their parents/guardians to ensure each student athlete has the opportunity to graduate with 30 credits in four years to qualify them for post-secondary destinations. While attending ASAD student athletes may be working toward achieving credits for health & physical education, cooperative education and E-learning courses.

ASAD is responsible for providing each student athlete with an individualized athletic development plan, which will adhere to the appropriate stage of Long Term Athlete Development as prescribed by the relevant provincial (PSO) or national sports organization (NSO). Furthermore, the implementation of the individualized athletic plan is coordinated in direct partnership with the relevant PSO or NSO. ASAD staff will communicate each student athlete’s progress to their respective sport, and will closely monitor and track progress throughout the implementation of the program.

Student athletes will participate in sport specific strength and conditioning, sports psychology, sports nutrition, lifestyle management and other performance enhancement services that will set them up for success both in sport and in their careers post sport. In addition to their primary sport, each student athlete will be presented with opportunities to enhance their levels of physical literacy through exposure to other sports and recreational opportunities which will support them in remaining active for life.

ASAD coaches are nominated and evaluated by the respective PSO’s and NSO’s. Each head coach must be certified in NCCP Competition Introduction at minimum, as well as having a current Police Vulnerable Sector Screening Check. In addition to the ASAD core program, coaches will also be an active resource for high school coaches and staff within partnering school boards to further support the development of regional high school sport and physical education.
All ASAD student athletes must follow transfer rules as laid out by the respective School Sport Associations (for example, OFSAA), and ASAD is committed to working with these organizations to ensure equitable high school sport opportunities.

Admission Requirements
The ASAD program is available to student athletes in grades 9-12. Prospective student athletes will be required to complete a formal application outlining their academic and athletic backgrounds and achievements. Student athletes must also be nominated and/or verified by the relevant provincial or national sports organization to ensure they meet high performance eligibility as established by the PSO and/or NSO. Applications will be reviewed by ASAD staff and relevant provincial or national sports organizations. Each prospective student athlete will then be put forward to be approved by the partnering school board.

As part of the application process, each prospective student athlete and their parents/guardians will be required to sign an agreement that requires them to uphold the True Sport core values of fairness, excellence, inclusion and fun.

Enrolment Fees
Enrolment fees cover programming and supports provided through ASAD, and will differ according to the program stream (sport) of enrolment. Current fees range from $5,000 to $9,000 per year. Financial assistance is available through the Academy Assistance Program, and support and advice will be available for families that may need assistance in locating potential funding.

Abilities Centre is listed as a Registered Charity, and is committed in ensuring that socio economic status is not a barrier to accessing the Academy for Student Athlete Development.

Key Dates
ASAD operates on the same schedule as the partnering school board with respect to holidays and mandatory school closures.

Inclusion & Culture
It is imperative that each student athlete that attends the Academy for Student Athlete Development contributes positively to the inclusive culture that ASAD strives to foster. ASAD is proud to be the only full time, high-
performance high school initiative in the world that provides opportunities for all aspiring student athletes,
including those that may be participating in Parasport or Special Olympics. ASAD is committed to ensuring that all student-athletes, regardless of gender, socio-economic status, disability, or ethnicity have equitable access to the program.

Research & Innovation
The Academy for Student Athlete Development engages both the Research and Innovation department at
Abilities Centre and national research partners to perform both short term and longitudinal research initiatives to assess the ongoing impact of the athletic development program. These initiatives are conducted with local, national and international partners. Research areas include:

• Psychosocial Impact
• Physiological effects
• Sports performance outcomes
• Behavioral change

The assessment of the impact of the ASAD program is individualized and specific to each student athlete, with the focus on supporting positive academic, athletic and psychosocial outcomes that prepare them for both their sporting careers, and their careers post sport.

All research and knowledge generated from the ASAD program will be shared with partnering school boards and sports as appropriate. This knowledge transfer will provide some excellent insights for coaches and school boards in areas such as participation motivation, gender integration, psychosocial considerations and inclusion.
The Academy for Student Athlete Development has established an advisory committee consisting of key
stakeholders including school board representatives, sports and community groups which will ensure effective, transparent implementation and evaluation.

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