(Vancouver, BC) – In 2008, a skinny kid who’d sustained a spinal cord injury in a snowboarding accident wheeled into the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Center gym to try wheelchair sports for the first time at a Bridging the Gap Have a Go Day. His recreation therapist Duncan Campbell found him to be a well-spoken natural athlete with a great attitude, and asked if he’d like to be interviewed for the promotional video about the Bridging the Gap program.
Fast forward six years and that skinny kid is heading off to compete at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games in sit skiing. His mentor, Duncan Campbell, is now the Director of the Bridging the Gap program, which has expanded from a local initiative created by BC Wheelchair Sports into a nationwide program that gets people with newly acquired disabilities involved in parasport through Have a Go Days, development clinics, referrals, peer mentorship and equipment loans.
“I’m very proud of Caleb,” said Campbell. “Right from the start it was clear that he was a natural athlete, but his attitude has really been what’s carried him so far. It’s an honour to have been there at the first moments of his para-sport career.”
This week, the Bridging the Gap program, BC Wheelchair Sports Association and BC Adaptive Snowsports teamed up to create a video celebrating Brousseau’s journey from that gym in 2008 to a Paralympic athlete. The video can be seen here.
“The best part of my job is getting to watch people who’re dealing with newly acquired disabilities make their lives better through sport,” said Campbell, who is most famous for inventing wheelchair rugby. “Sometimes that’s getting the physical strength to be able to live more independently, sometimes it’s having fun at a recreational program, and sometimes it’s representing your country at the Paralympic Games. We can’t wait to cheer Caleb on in Sochi.”
Brousseau is not the first Paralympian to come from the Bridging the Gap program. Other B.C. Bridging the Gap Paralympians include: Trevor Hirschfield (wheelchair rugby), Travis Murao (wheelchair rugby), Michelle Stilwell (wheelchair racing), Sarah Hunter (wheelchair tennis), Bo Hedges (wheelchair basketball), Doug Blessin (target shooting) and Nathan Dewitt (wheelchair racing).