If you live in a community without a wheelchair sports program, starting one might seem like an overwhelming task. We see time and time again, however, that great things can happen when a few passionate members of the community decide to make a difference and receive the equipment and mentorship they need to make their dreams a reality.
That’s what happened with the Port Moody Drop-In Wheelchair Sports Program. This multi-sport wheelchair sport drop-in program started out as an idea in the minds of Elaine Willis and Angela Blackall. In 2012, Elaine found herself searching for a recreational wheelchair sports program that was fun and inclusive.
“There are few truly recreational opportunities for wheelchair sports,” she said. “Everything seemed to be for athletes or for people with significant disabilities. I wanted something for everyone! Fun and a workout!”
Elaine’s idea took off when she met Angela, who works for the Port Moody Recreation Complex. Angela was already a wheelchair basketball fan and had wanted to start a program for several years, and Elaine gave her the push she needed. Angela contacted BC Wheelchair Sports Association and established a leadership team of key volunteers and supporters.
With Angela and Elaine recruiting participants and rallying the community, and BC Wheelchair Sports Association’s Adam Frost, Kevin Bowie and Lisa Myers and the Bridging the Gap program providing equipment and advice, a Have a Go Day turned into a six-week program, which turned into a permanent wheelchair sports program. The results have been very positive. The drop-in program averages about 13 participants a week, and the community has rallied behind the group.
“Everyone is on board,” said Elaine. “The Mayor of Port Moody is a frequent participant and a big supporter!”
According to Angela, the partnership between the wheelchair sports community and Port Moody has been a positive one.
“Through this process, I am most impressed with how incredibly tight the wheelchair sport community is!” she said. “I feel like I have met people who share a passion of mine, which is to genuinely care for people’s accessibility to sport. I have never met a more supportive group of people.”
Thanks to the hard work of Angela, Elaine and the team of volunteers and the support of the City of Port Moody, people with disabilities in the area now have a wheelchair sports program that welcomes everyone, regardless of age, disability, experience level or fitness level. According to participant Dean Stoney, however, the key to the program’s success is how fun and welcoming it is.
“It gives me that extra push to get out of the house and be more active,” he said, “but it’s also just plain fun to get together with a like-minded group and just play.”
Now, Angela and Elaine are working to secure more equipment and expand their program. They’re recruiting more participants, and have a message for those considering coming out:
“Drop in. Or phone and register. Or contact me via Facebook if you need a pep talk first, or phone Angela,” said Elaine. “I promise that everyone who has come has had a wonderful time, no matter what ability or disability. It’s a blast!”
The Port Moody Wheelchair Sports Program takes place on Wednesdays from 6:00 – 7:30 at the Port Moody Recreation Complex.
If you would like to get involved, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in at the program.