Charitable Choices: Minnie Teng of the Aquafit for All Association

Aquafit for All is a fitness gem right here in Vancouver, BC. We sat down with Founding Director Miini Teng to learn more about Aquafit for All and how their non-profit is all about creating a supportive community where health and fun go hand in hand. Currently, they offer four specialized programs, including dedicated sessions for stroke survivors, individuals with vision loss, children facing developmental challenges, and a virtual exercise program born out of the COVID era.

Aquafit for All

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Aquafit for All is a charitable organization providing accessible aquatic activities for people with all ability levels! We also conduct research for and with people with disabilities on topics related to accessible aquatic programs to continually improve our program design. We also share materials on how to adapt exercises for different abilities on our website and through our YouTube channel!

Currently, we have 4 programs – one for stroke survivors, people with vision loss, children with developmental challenges, and a virtual exercise program because the need arose during COVID.

What problem does it aim to solve?

When I realized there is a need for adaptive exercises for people once they are outside of the rehab setting so they can continue to exercise at a level that works for them.

When did you start/join it?

The organization was started in 2016. I wanted to start this organization for a few reasons: my dad had injuries that led to major spinal surgeries, and exercise options became limited for him, we couldn’t find exercises that he could safely participate in, and since I was already teaching aquafit, I tried to incorporate different levels of exercises so he can participate. My dad still volunteers for the programs whenever he can! Additionally, as a child, I underwent vision rehab since I had strabismus, so I wanted to help people with different abilities since exercises have amazing benefits for our health.

What was the situation like when you started?

Aqua Vision was the first organized program that I started. I wanted to find a way to help people with vision loss stay oriented in the water, and was thinking really hard on this. One day as I stepped into the shower I thought “OH! The shower mat!” and tried using the shower mat for folks with vision loss to stand up during aquafit, so that as long as they stay on the mats they will not bump into walls or other people. I worked with BC Blind Sports and the CNIB and developed this into an official program. Later on, we had participants who had vision loss as a result of stroke, who asked me to also design a program for stroke survivors. At that point, I decided I should build a team and start an organization dedicated to this cause, and that’s how everything started. I had to learn how to form a board, how to apply for non-profit status and later charitable status, how to write grants, how to do basic accounting, etc. I remember posting on Craigslist looking for board members!

Aquafit for All

What more needs to be done?

I am currently a fourth-year medical student at UBC, and have been running the organization as a volunteer on a part-time basis. There is definitely more that needs to be done but I’m juggling quite a bit on my plate, though I am extremely appreciative of the board members that we have, who are absolute rock stars who put their time and effort voluntarily into helping with the organization’s operations. Many of our board members are/were our program participants! We have a diverse board consisting of very diverse groups including representatives from the blind community, immigrants/refugees, LGBTQ2+, stroke survivors, people with chronic illnesses, and our board members range from being in their 20s to 70s. We would love to expand our program frequency, build capacity with more instructor/volunteer recruitment and training, and our next goal is to help our participants become instructors so that we also offer equitable employment for people with different abilities!

How can our readers help?

If you love the water and want to learn more about adapted water activities, check out our website and fill out a volunteer form! You can also donate at the link here.

Do you have any events coming up?

We are hosting a Trivia fundraiser at the Canadian Brewhouse in Richmond on February 24th! Tickets are $20 and come with a raffle ticket as well as a drink or a bucket of fries. We would love for you to join us, play games, learn about what we do, and support us by having some fun! We have some great prizes to be won here too. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Where can we follow you?

Please follow us for more adaptable exercise content:

Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

One of our partners and a nonprofit I love volunteering with is BLAST (Building Life After Stroke Together!). It’s a peer group run by stroke survivors for stroke survivors!

 

About Emilea Semancik 124 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: