Staying Fit and Having Fun

THUNDER BAY – Last March, I had the privilege of being invited to the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Vancouver. The athletes were exuberant, anticipating glorious victories in their chosen sports. But where are dreams like this born? The seeds are often planted in sports groups for persons with disabilities.

Thunder Bay has a number of such groups including therapeutic riding (horseback riding), wheelchair curling, goal ball (a game in which the participants are blind folded and the ball has a bell in it), sledge hockey, downhill skiing, sit skiing, swimming, tai chi and bowling. Inclusion services strive to make the city’s sport programs accessible to children and adults with disabilities wherever possible. The Accessibility Advisory Committee also works to this end.

Sport contributes to everyone’s wellness from the physical to the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual. Persons with disabilities are not exempt from this reality. Another local group that concerns itself with disability and sport is the Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council.

The council was formed in partnership with ParaSport Ontario. Among the objectives of the council are the following: to develop awareness and participation in accessible sports; to create a network of accessible sport groups; and to collaborate with them on joint ventures. (The Key, Fall 2011) Groups like the Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council, who support sport for persons with disabilities, are also important because sport is common ground between athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes.

I would like to encourage sport lovers, disabled and able-bodied alike, to further investigate Thunder Bay’s sports groups for persons with disabilities, (maybe even take in an exciting wheelchair curling game on a Sunday afternoon)!

For more information on sports groups for persons with disabilities, contact PUSH NORTHWEST at 345-3400.

Donna-Lynn Wiitala