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Abled-bodied or not: Players wanted

Leveling the playing field with wheelchair sports.

Players at Bridging the Gap 2.0 event at the Britannia Community Center on Feb. 2. Photo by Nathan Gan
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Reported by Nathan Gan

With B.C. organizations encouraging inclusivity in wheelchair sports, some say that kids are able to overcome past basketball fears with a level playing field.

On Jan. 2. the Vancouver Airport and the B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society (BCWBS) launched their #yougame campaign. They created a three-minute video to spread the message that wheelchair basketball welcomes able-bodied individuals who do not use daytime wheelchairs.

The campaign invites individuals to participate in events, such as Bridging the Gap 2.0, where new and experienced wheelchair basketball players meet and play together. This event happens bi-weekly at Brittania Community Centre.

Nadine Barbisan, the acting manager of program development for BCWBS, said that wheelchair basketball can be more inviting to individuals who have difficulty playing regular basketball.

Deconstructing basketball to fit inclusivity

According to Barbisan, some students actually prefer wheelchair basketball because it deconstructs the aspects of basketball that require a lot more coordination.

“Even though it is a difficult sport, it eases [the anxiety] because everyone’s starting from scratch,” she said.

Barbisan said it is important to familiarise kids to wheelchair basketball in a school environment because this introduces inclusivity sooner.

Benjamin Garrett, 18, has been a wheelchair basketball player for 13 years and emphasizes on how “you don’t have to be disabled to play.”

“I do demos at my school every year,” said Garrett, who gives demonstrations of the sport at his school.

Garrett, who uses a daytime wheelchair, said the sport offered him many great opportunities, and anyone who plays can be a part of that.

Jake Sobrepena, a spokesperson for the YVR said the airport’s interests include showing the world what an all-around accessible airport looks like, while first opening up to the local community.

“We want to raise awareness of accessibility issues for the Greater Vancouver area, as a whole,” Sobrepena said.

YVR has partnered with the BCWBS for four years, with yearly fundraiser Hoopfest happening in May 2018.

 

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