Guest Session Speaker Blog
By Jess Silver
Jess Silver is a Medical Writer, Motivational speaker, Adaptive Fitness Personal Trainer and Founder of Flex for Access Inc., a Non-Profit Organization for fitness and sport promotion to manage disability and injury. She is also a 2x Amazon Bestselling Author of Run: An Uncharted Direction (2020) and Life’s Lava: Quotes, Values and Reflections That Light Our Souls and Colour Our Days With Reason (2021). In addition, she has an MA in Creative Writing, A PGD, in Medical Writing and Editing, and is a Certified TPCS 2.0 Researcher on Human Subjects.
Jess has kindly written a blog for us to give our delegates a flavour of the topics she will be discussing in her Guest Speaker Session at our conference in October. You can read Jess’ blog below.
Reframing the Notion of Recreation for Youth and Adults Through Fitness and Physical Literacy: It’s More Than ‘Fun’: It’s a vehicle to Higher Potential and Disability Management In Life
Many people don’t think about the impact of hours spent on a court or soccer pitch beyond it being fun or a distraction from daily demands and routine. The influence of playing a sport or being physical active is multifactorial for everyone, regardless of age, gender, athletic level, or experience and ability. Sport Psychology studies and other medical research, indicates that engaging in a sport-based activity or any kind of physical activity, positively impacts emotional health and intelligence, skill retention, social participation, the ability to learn and process information, and healthy physical routines and habits. An additional aspect of importance is understanding physical literacy as a vehicle to disability management and building and fostering the capacity for higher potential.
This Fall, The University of Edinburgh Scotland, is hosting its International Conference for Physical Activity, where the speakers and researchers will specifically explore the considerations of sport, exercise, and recreation on Cerebral Palsy, (CP).
As a condition, Cerebral Palsy is diverse. It affects each individual differently, some only physically, some unilaterally, (on one side of the body), some cognitively and, some both cognitively and physically. There are five levels of classification on the Gross and Fine Motor Scale of CP. (GMFCS) This diverse nature of CP is similar to the way that sport, fitness, and physical activity experiences, range in type and in how each can be engaged in, and adapted to suit everyone’s interests, needs and abilities.
My name is Jess Silver. I am an Adaptive Fitness Consultant, Personal Trainer, and Founder of a Registered Non-Profit Organization, based in Canada, called Flex for Access. Flex for Access was founded out of my own love and passion for sport which I have developed since the age of five, and a love for fitness that has progressively increased over the last twelve years. It immerged out of my own personal passion for fitness and training at a high-performance functional fitness level and being the only one at the gym who used a wheelchair for mobility within a mainstream fitness setting. Furthermore, I had the realization that individuals such as myself weren’t expected to exercise in a mainstream gym. The opportunities to do so, weren’t readily accessible and there was and still remains a gap in knowledge translation for fitness and health professionals, related to the importance of, as well as well the how-to, on ways to work with individuals who have physical disabilities and acquired injuries.
Flex for Access is the first Non-Profit Organization of its kind; based in Canada as it facilitates opportunities for both adaptive fitness and sport, whereas others focus on sport. Funds raised go towards facilitating fitness-based training sessions, and sport programs at partnered facilities as well as, towards the purchase of adaptive fitness equipment for the facilities. The emphasis on the activities of the Non-Profit Organization, which extend beyond its most important one, which is to ensure that individuals with physical disabilities have access to opportunities for fitness and sport promotion within mainstream gyms and sport settings; is to also be the spear-heading organization for adaptive fitness education as part of the mainstream.
While the education of fitness professionals and other health industry stakeholders was always important to Flex for Access; it took a particular stronghold during the Covid-19 pandemic. At this time, Founder and Executive Director, Jess Silver, truly took it upon herself and her network, to reframe the notion of recreation for youth and adults with physical disabilities, as she realized its more than ‘fun’ for these demographics of individuals. For them, especially it’s a vehicle to higher potential.
Flex for Access creates the capacity for newfound physical ability, prevention of further atrophy because of spasticity and joint rigidity characteristic of CP, for example and also builds confidence, emotional resilience and intrinsic and interpersonal skills, which develop and bolster avenues for lifelong success across aspects of their life. More information about Flex for Access, is available at www.flexforaccess.ca and anyone is encouraged to follow the Non-Profit Organization on Social Media @flexforaccess and use the hashtag #flexforaccess on posts flexing one’s bicep or engaged in fitness or sports’ based training to raise awareness of the fundamental importance of fitness and sport as avenues for physical disability management, and to continue to redefine the conversation of limitation and physical disability through movement.