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Meet Austin: Helping give equal opportunity

April 19, 2021

This National Volunteer Week, we want you to meet some of the amazing individuals who give back so generously in our programs. From across the Lower Mainland, Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria and Nanaimo, we are so lucky to benefit from hundreds of volunteers.

Austin Pietramala has supported CAN participants in both Kelowna and Kamloops since 2017. We asked him why he got involved with CAN and what continues to drive him to give back!

Which programs have you supported with CAN?

I have volunteered for Multi-Sport, Swim, Bike, and Skate in both Kelowna and Kamloops!

What motivated you to volunteer with CAN participants?

I have played organized sports throughout my life and understand the effect that it can have on young children growing up. I know it helps with the development of social and motor skills.

But mainly, sports provides kids with the opportunity to just be kids and have fun!

Austin testing out a bike camp activity with staff in Kamloops! (2019)

Growing up, my mother was a CEA, so I was introduced to what autism was at a young age. I always wanted to help people on the autism spectrum like she did.

I was also always aware that people with certain challenges or disabilities (whether they be physical or cognitive, etc.) might not have the same opportunity as others. And that never sat well with me.

So when I learned about CAN, I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer!

Do you have a favourite memory in your time volunteering with CAN?

A participant and I both got along really well with each other, and we created a secret handshake. Every time that something awesome happened or we were just happy and having fun, we did the secret handshake.

The handshake was quite involved too! We were partnered up for a few different sessions, and the handshake lasted throughout all of them.

Why do you continue volunteering with CAN?

I’ve met so many great people had so many great experiences. I want to continue sharing all of the skills that organized sports has given me. And hopefully, a few more laughs and smiles along the way!

More volunteer stories:

Nina Gaspari: “Be kind to one another”

Sebastian: “Living a life I like”

Kyle Boyle: Why I volunteer for CAN

Former hockey player gives back at CAN skate

Starbucks: An extra shot of good