Emilio Frometa making impactful plays off the field

Football player just one example of Queen’s athletes giving back to community by mentoring

Frometa poses with the women’s basketball team on AMP’s opening night.
Photo Supplied By Emilio Frometa

For Emilio Frometa, football has never been his sole focus.

After three years of being a student athlete, the Gaels offensive lineman is ready to make his impact beyond the gridiron.  

Alongside countless varsity athletes, Frometa introduced the Queen’s Autism Mentorship Program (AMP) in November. Starting this year, the initiative pairs varsity athletes with children that suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to provide kids with a role model.

“You’re basically a super cool best friend for a kid in the community who has ASD,” Frometa, who’s currently enrolled as graduate student at Queen’s told The Journal.

Participating athletes are first paired with a child with ASD and spend roughly three hours of time together per week. During these gatherings, the athlete and child will engage in activities ranging from playing sports, going to the movies or working on school work.

“You’re giving really good role models the ability to have a huge impact in someone’s life,” Frometa said. He added that athletes involved in the initiative serve as mentors to the children. “The program hopes to facilitate not only the friendship, but [a] relationship that helps develop social skills as well as motor skills.”

Currently, the AMP has paired over 40 student athletes with local youth — a number that continues to grow as the program’s presence expands on campus. Currently, the program has athletes from field hockey, cross country, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, rugby, football, basketball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball and hockey.

Frometa’s inspiration came from his own mentorship experiences in his early years at Queen’s. Working with a young local boy, he realized the impact ASD can have on a child and their family. 

“It’s really hard to quantify the impact of a child who has ASD, especially when you’re not around,” Frometa said. “But those two or three hours, where you can go grocery shopping or take a break, you don’t realize how much that means to the family.” 

“It alleviates a lot of the pressures associated with ASD and that’s kind of the goal of the program,” he said.

Alongside the youth-to-athlete relationship the program aims to build, the AMP has also turned its attention to ensuring local children that suffer from ASD feel like a part of the Queen’s athletics community. 

On Nov. 4, the AMP was launched at a women’s basketball game. Frometa said the kids were treated as “guests of honour,” with areas of the ARC designed to engage AMP members with the game as well as allow them to take a break from the action. The program’s accommodations received an outpouring of support from local families.

“My goal is to try to make [Queen’s home games] accessible for kids that have disabilities,” Frometa continued.

While Frometa plans on graduating this spring, he hopes to see the program grow far beyond Queen’s campus. With St. Lawrence College well on its way to joining the AMP, Frometa is already seeing his work extend outside of campus. 

“The goal is to have the AMP at every university in Ontario,” Frometa said. “You’ve just got to plant the seeds and let it grow.”


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