Karen Natho (BPHE, BSc, MSc, RKin BCAK) is the Founder of the Brock Niagara Penguins, the leading ParaSport program in Niagara. Throughout Karen’s career she has worked tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities, ensuring all children are provided with equal and equitable opportunities. Karen spent six years directing Easter Seals Camp Merrywood into a leading residential camp for children and youth with physical disabilities. She was the regions lead presenter for the Canadian Paralympic Committee – Changing Minds, Changing Lives workshops and has conducted multiple seminars with educators and practitioners locally and around the world pertaining to topics such as disability sport awareness, adapted physical activity and accessibility program design. She worked for 7 years at the Niagara Children’s Centre leading in the creation of the service of Recreational Therapy for children with special needs in Niagara. Her research and activities in this area have been funded by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, United Way and Canadian Paralympic Committee.
She completed her Masters of Science at the Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta, looking at the running gait patterns of athletes with cerebral palsy. She was awarded the 2014 STAR award for Innovation and Excellence and the 2008 YWCA Women of Distinction award in the area of Education, Training and Development. Karen was a leader in developing the Bid for Niagara for the 2021 Canada Summer Games, is currently a Board member with the Niagara Summer 2021 Games, where she assists with the accessibility, parasport initiatives and the Legacy that the Games will leave in Niagara. Karen is actively working on the Canada Games Park legacy facility for the Games, which will have a lasting Parasport infrastructure for Niagara and the province of Ontario. She is a past Board Member with ParaSport Ontario, awarded the Community Impact Award and a member of the distinguished ParaSport Advisory Team. Karen is also a board member of the Sport4All council and lectures in the area of disability at educational institutions in the region.
Currently Karen resides in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She lectures at the University of the Fraser Valley in the Department of Kinesiology and works at a therapy clinic as a musculoskeletal kinesiologist. Karen is the proud mother of 3 active children, Benjamin, Nathan and Lillian. She lives an active life training for ironman distance triathlons, hiking trails with her kids and cannon balling off her diving board.