A guide to accessible sport in Victoria

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Check out these accessible local sports programs

Graphic by Sie Douglas-Fish.

The Paralympic Games are upon us, with Opening Ceremonies set to take place on March 4. With the broadcast of these inspiring athletes comes increased awareness of adaptive and inclusive athletics. The more time I spend thinking about the Paralympic Games, the more I come to recognize the important role that Paralympic athletes play in demonstrating the diversity of sport participation that can occur.

It is extremely important to create accessible and inclusive opportunities in athletics. As I continued to ponder the topic, I wondered what kind of accessible sport resources were available locally.

Diving into the world of accessible sport, I realized that there are a variety of levels at which sport can be played. Whether you are looking for an introductory program, a casual sport or a career as a professional athlete, there are opportunities right here in Victoria. Here’s everything you need to know about accessible athletics in Victoria.

A quick Internet search for “Accessible Sport” first presents the SportAbility program. SportAbility is a registered charity that provides accessible physical activity programs for individuals.

Focused on a demographic of British Columbia, SportAbility believes in the accessibility of sport for all residents of the province with a physical disability. While most of their programs operate in Vancouver, there are options for programs located in Victoria through organizations like Victoria Wheelchair Sports. Currently, they offer two sports in the Victoria area: para ice hockey and boccia.

Victoria Wheelchair Sports is also its own organisation, offering a number of wheelchair accessible sports such as rugby, ice hockey and basketball. Financially supported by the provincial government of British Columbia, this not-for-profit organization operates on a membership basis. Registration is available online, with an option to select any sports that might be of interest. Victoria Wheelchair Sports also offers wheelchair-friendly athletic therapy treatments for para-athletes at discounted rates through the Camosun College Athletic and Exercise Therapy Clinic.

CanAssist is a program run by the University of Victoria whose intentions are dedicated to “helping people with disabilities improve their quality of life, with an emphasis on promoting independence and inclusion”. The organization is a donation-based program that provides inclusive spaces for people with disabilities and their families.

For sports-specific opportunities, CanAssist partners with the Center for Athletics, Recreation, and Special Abilities (CARSA) on the UVic campus to develop programs that focus on inclusivity. There are a number of sports and activity programs designed to give everyone the opportunity to participate, ranging from activities such as adaptive sports, inclusive dance lessons and opportunities to try wheelchair sports.

The City of Victoria’s website explains that “recreation is essential to everyone’s health and well-being”. The City of Victoria offers the Swim Inclusion program at Crystal Pool, which provides access to swimming lessons for people of all skill levels. There are group, small class and private lesson options, allowing individuals to select the option best suited to their abilities and skill levels. The Swim Inclusion program also offers accessible parking, lifts to changing stairs and pool decks, and a water lift to access the leisure pool, main pool and hot tub. whirlpool.

Another opportunity available for accessible sport, which is unique to Victoria, is the Para PowerPLAY program, run by OneAbility. This program provides individuals with access to a variety of adaptive sports. Targeting ages 15 to 25, this multi-sport program includes Para Rowing, Wheelchair Basketball and Para Ice Hockey. Providing access to sports that would not otherwise be accessible, in terms of equipment or resources needed, Para PowerPLAY is a unique opportunity to explore sports further afield. The current program is in effect from February to June 2022.

For those with high level sporting intentions, there are also special programs for Victoria that provide opportunities to compete as a professional athlete. The Para-National Training Center for the Canadian National Rowing Team is located right here in Victoria, training in Elk Lake. This gives athletes access to adaptive sports, training individuals to perform at the Olympic level. Para Rowing Canada invites people interested in trying para rowing to message them through their official Instagram account.

Everyone should have access to sport and activity, at all levels. There are opportunities to ensure that no one has to forego leisure due to any type of inhibiting factor. The Paralympic Games are a timely reminder that athletics can and should be accessible to everyone.

There is no limit to the success one can achieve when presented with the right resources.

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