The state-of-the-art, fully accessible Abilities Centre in Whitby has something for everyone, as the Ashraf family has discovered. “It’s a centre where an entire family can be engaged,” says Khawar Ashraf, “The types of the programs they offer are engaging at every age level.” Khawar, his wife, Aisha, and three children, Imtiaz, Jamila and Suraya, are members of the Abilities Centre and couldn’t be happier.
“It has a family-oriented inclusiveness. It’s very welcoming,” says Khawar. “The children are actually taking part in something and not just being parked somewhere while we are busy,” says Aisha. “Whether it’s art, dancing, music or drama – they can do something like that instead of sitting in a room being looked after,” says Khawar.
“I can do the exercises that I want to do. It’s got the running, it’s got the weights but it’s also got some of that personal touch, where if you need advice or something tailored to your needs, they will do that with no pressure to achieve anything,” says Khawar. “Because there is no pressure, you can relax and give free rein to your creativity a lot more,” says Aisha, “I don’t think I ever would have thought about doing taekwondo but I watched the kids do it and I helped them practise and thought, ‘Yeah, why not give it a go?’” The Ashrafs have tried a variety of activities, from yoga to art to wheelchair basketball, and have made new friends at the Abilities Centre.
“If you’re not very good at sports you can go and do art, music, or drama, or improve at sports,” says Jamila. Imtiaz likes taekwondo the best because “it’s really fun and you get to learn some moves.” Suraya says, “I like playing in the park.” And Aisha sums it up by saying, “You don’t need to feel apologetic for being different.”
for more information, visit abilitiescentre.org