By Louise Leger
When Carmine Filice was asked to take part in SAAAC Autism Centre’s annual fundraiser August 2-9, the request came at just the right time, and the answer—a definitive yes—was a no-brainer.
Founder and director of the sports science and rehabilitation centre The Performance Lab, as well as Tennis Canada Sports Science Consultant, Carmine is passionate about helping kids, giving back and keeping people active.
The SAAAC Autism Centre in Scarborough helps families touched by autism—many of them new Canadians—through diverse therapies, arts and fitness programs and social support. This year because of the pandemic, the annual event has morphed from a walkathon to a fundraiser with captains (like Carmine) undertaking various fitness and wellness challenges and encouraging others to do the same or to sponsor them.
“As part of the fundraiser, I am sharing a few videos with a focus on using sports science to help participants with recovery and performance with a range of physical activities. I hope people will be inspired and encouraged by the videos and want to donate to SAAAC’s Walk-A-Thon,” he says.
As with many of us, the pandemic had a real impact on Carmine and the Performance Lab, which has youth athlete development as one of its main areas of focus.
“The pandemic severely impacted the sporting world not only at the highest level but also at the grassroots and social levels,” he says.
“Kids were not able to go play with their friends or chase their big league dreams and adults were forced to stop playing the games they love and may use as a social outlet.”
When things shut down, Carmine, a doctorate of Chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Science, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, decided it was important to provide young athletes with an outlet.
“We started free online Zoom classes for all our athletes along with making sure they had proper programming in place so they could keep active and continue to improve. It also provided a social setting, which is so important for kids who are feeling isolated from their peers,” he says.
“The feedback from the kids was fantastic. As a result, I also decided to open up a greater number of slots to our athlete scholarship program to have more kids be a part of this opportunity.”
It was around this time that he was asked to get involved in the SAAAC virtual walkathon.
“It resonated with me and fell in line with getting people moving and active throughout the closures as a community,” says Carmine, who has worked with major league athletes and the top sports medicine and rehabilitation specialists around the world. “It was a natural fit, and we are excited to do our part to raise money for this amazing organization.”
Carmine says he wants to help give kids a good start, face obstacles and reach their potential as much as possible.
“The people I met who are involved with SAAAC are so passionate about helping kids and families, that it made it easy to jump on board.”
To donate to Carmine’s pledge page, please visit https://walkathon.saaac.org/challenges/46.