Mabbott Lab

Kindred Foundation is a proud funder of the Mabbott Lab at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.

The lab is led by Dr. Don Mabbott who is dedicated to understanding brain development for children with brain injury and more specifically, childhood cancer brain tumour survivors. The lab is conducting impressive research into understanding how physical activity can promote brain repair and cognitive recovery.

Funding the Fit ABCS online Portal

Developed in the Mabbott Lab [1] at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Fit ABCS is an online portal that aims to promote brain repair for childhood brain tumour survivors by fostering physical activity. The Fit ABCS portal was jointly funded by Kindred Foundation (with the donation provided through Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation) and the Garron Family Cancer Centre. Kindred Foundation was pleased to be able to support Dr. Don Mabbott, Senior Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program at SickKids, and his team, in the development of this tool for children and youth who have survived brain tumours.

The development of Fit ABCS is based on a previous clinical trial [2] that examined the impact of exercise training for children and youth with brain tumours who had been treated with radiation to the brain (cranial radiation)[3]. Participants were assigned to receive 12 weeks of exercise training provided by study instructors who used a paper-based manual to help create specialized activity plans for the children.

The research showed that when children with brain injury resulting from a brain tumour and its treatment engaged in exercise training, they experienced improved brain function, brain structure and cognition! These promising results led to the next stage of research – improving on the paper-based manual to create the online Fit ABCS portal.

What does the Fit ABCS online portal include?

Fit ABCS is an extensive online application for fitness experts to work with children and youth with brain injuries. The online portal includes a required training module that educates fitness experts on the Fit ABCS program, working with children and youth and the specific supports needed for those with a brain injury. The training module covers different components of the program (e.g., participant safety) including knowledge checks for fitness experts to test their understanding. There is a final evaluation that fitness experts are required to complete before they use the Fit ABCS portal.

The portal includes an activity library that holds over 60 different examples of physical activities specially designed for children and youth. The goal of the activity library is to give fitness experts ideas for creating an activity plan that meets the varying abilities of the children or youth in their group/session. The library comes with filters to help the fitness experts select activities that are appropriate. For example, you can filter for the type of activity (warm-up, cool down, aerobic training), exercises with modifications, activities that require equipment vs not, and many more. Each activity is accompanied by instructions and diagrams and/or a video on how to complete the exercise.

Fit ABCS also acts as a log to document the successes and challenges of each activity plan. There are many locations within the portal where fitness experts can make comments and provide feedback. After each session, they can leave comments on what worked well and what didn’t work well about their activity plan. Feedback from parents and participants is also appreciated.

What are the next steps for Fit ABCS?

In 2022, a clinical trial will run that uses the Fit ABCS portal to develop exercise training for childhood brain tumour survivors. The goal is to gather feedback on the tool to further improve and refine the Fit ABCS portal and to learn more about how the brain changes because of exercise. The information gathered from this clinical trial will help to provide the basis for a larger national clinical trial using Fit ABCS with children across Canada. Kindred Foundation is helping to co-fund this clinical trial in 2022.

The clinical trial is currently accepting children and youth who are between 6-17 years of age, were diagnosed with a brain tumour 1-15 years ago, are medically stable and meet English language requirements (additional exclusion criteria may apply). If you would like more information about the clinical trial, please email

Ultimately, the Mabbott Lab hope Fit ABCS will be an effective tool to develop exercise programs for children and youth with a brain injury due to treatment of a childhood brain tumour and, in time, children and youth with other types of brain injuries.




[3] Szulc-Lerch, K.U., Timmons, B.W., Bouffet, E., et al. (2018) Repairing the brain with physical exercise: Cortical thickness and brain volume increases in long-term pediatric brain tumour survivors in response to a structured exercise intervention. NeuroImage: Clinical, 18, pps. 972-985.