Promoting inclusion and mental well-being | Promouvoir l’inclusion et le mieux-être mental
Inspirations Articles

The Simon Chang Difference Maker Award | Tyson Taylor makes a difference with Leaps and Bounds

TJ, Tyson Taylor, Simon Chang and David Julien
TJ, Tyson Taylor, Simon Chang and David Julien outside of the Leaps and Bounds Center at Club Sportif CDL on March 25. Photo: Wendy Singer
Montreal - Tuesday, May 2, 2023

by Randy Pinsky

With years of experience working with special needs kids and with youth with behavioural challenges in group homes, Tyson Taylor lamented the limited sports options available to this clientele. He decided to do something about it. Enter Leaps and Bounds Center, an inclusive summer sports camp for individuals seven years and older with autism, developmental delays or intellectual disabilities. Now in its sixth year, the organization has expanded to offer activities year-round that promote team-building and a sense of belonging.

Leaps and Bounds Center adapts sport activities to campers’ abilities, believing that physical activity and exercise are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Options include soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming (in the summer) and pickleball to name a few. Campers enjoy time spent on indoor fields as well as in the classrooms and outdoor spaces at the CDL Club Sportif Côte de Liesse in Saint-Laurent.

The Julien family connected with Taylor upon the recommendation of Summit School social worker Annette Perry. She suggested that their 16-year-old son TJ attend the camp to build confidence and independence.

When TJ’s father David saw how happy his non-verbal autistic son was after activities, he was inspired to nominate Taylor for the Simon Chang Difference Maker Award. And his nomination was based on more than that. “Talking with Tyson and realizing all the amazing resources he had pulled together, and how quickly this was scaling up – that [is what] makes him a true difference maker in the community.”

“This is a great honour. It just came out of the blue!” exclaimed Taylor. “I was even hesitant starting this years ago.” The camp has grown from the original nine campers to 40, with a waitlist.

According to Julien, there is something special about Taylor. “It’s his intuition, the way he greets the kids.” Rather than focusing on their limitations, the team of experienced educators accentuates their abilities, encouraging self-confidence and skill-building.

“Tyson just gets it, and makes everything look easy,” said Julien in his nomination. “To help people with disabilities, it takes a community that is [not only] empathetic and generous, but that is also able to challenge them on their own terms,” he said.

Several well-known athletes with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder have been known to leverage their special skills. ADDitude Magazine explained how swimmer Michael Phelps was the first American to win eight medals in a single Olympic Games, and Olympic hockey player Cammi Granato’s ability to quickly react to external stimuli made her a menace on the ice.

Leaps and Bounds has expanded from a summer camp to also include spring break activities and multi-sport Saturdays. All are held at the Club CDL.

With the right motivation and support, Taylor believes there is no limit to what kids can do, which was the inspiration behind the name Leaps and Bounds. In fact, he is even hiring former campers, many of whom were asked to leave other camps before finally finding their place at his. Providing them with responsibilities and expectations is key for seeing change in themselves and towards others, Taylor said.

“It is so special to see how far they’ve come,” he shared. “This is all possible due to the support of CDL’s executive director, Lloyd Prizant, who has been an incredible partner to us as we grow.”

Simon Chang, his business partner Faye Swift and this edition’s prize sponsor Sandy Tedford were inspired by Taylor’s determination, the way he cares for his clients and the positive example he is setting with his work at Leaps and Bounds. Chang was pleased to name Taylor as this edition’s Difference Maker.

The Simon Chang Foundation for Change will be providing funds to send underprivileged youth to the camp this summer, thanks to the generosity and support of donor Tedford.

“I fully support Tyson’s mission and am honoured to help provide campers with an experience they may not otherwise be able to have - an opportunity for a summer of exploring, sharing, growth and adventure,” said Chang.

 Julien is grateful to have discovered the camp, which he describes as something very rare in the special needs community where young adults can develop a sense of character and identity. “My son has changed. His whole way has brightened,” he stated in the nomination. “TJ may not speak, but you can read him so to see him visibly happy and engaged, means the world to me as a parent.”

Leaps and Bounds Center summer camp runs for eight weeks at the CDL Club Sportif Côte de Liesse. For more info: 438.397.9766 or

Nominate your Difference Maker at