Come out to a game of wheelchair basketball or a wheelchair tennis match and you might be surprised to see many athletes stand up and walk away from the wheelchair after the game is over. The Bridging the Gap Program, along with BC Wheelchair Sports Association and the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society, have launched a new online campaign to tackle the misconception that you have to be a wheelchair user to play wheelchair sports.
“There are so many people out there who could benefit from wheelchair sports but simply don’t know they’re eligible to play,” said Bridging the Gap Communications Manager Arley McNeney. “If playing able-bodied sports is difficult or painful, wheelchair sports are a great option.”
Many wheelchair sports even allow able-bodied participation up to the national level. In fact, up to 40% of all wheelchair basketball players in Canada are able-bodied or minimally disabled. Ambulatory athletes, such as those with amputations, arthritis, bone diseases, knee injuries, spina bifida or cerebral palsy, are eligible to play nearly every wheelchair sport.
“The wheelchair is just a piece of sporting equipment,” said McNeney. “If you want to go skiing, you strap on a pair of skis. If you want to play wheelchair sports, you use a sports wheelchair. Once people discover that mindset, they see how fast-paced and exciting wheelchair sports are and quickly get hooked.”
The message is particularly important because wheelchair sports offer participants many benefits. Athletes whose able-bodied career was ended by an injury have a chance to compete at a high level again. (Wheelchair basketball star Janet McLachlan, for example, came to the sport after her international rugby career was ended by a knee injury). People with disabilities who play wheelchair sports have fewer hospital stays, less stress and depression, a greater chance of employment, and a great quality of life than their inactive peers.
To spread the word, the Bridging the Gap program has launched a new web video. You can view the video below:
To learn how to get involved in wheelchair sports, please visit the Bridging the Gap Program’s website at www.btgcanada.ca.
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For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Communications Manager – Bridging the Gap Program