The University of Victoria joined in on the first-ever ParaSport Development Week, an initiative to promote inclusive sports and fitness programs for people with disabilities.
The week-long event featured demonstrations of wheelchair tennis, basketball, rugby and sledge hockey, as well as athletic exercise and therapy clinics and an injury prevention presentation. The event was hosted by the Victoria Wheelchair Sports Club and OneAbility, with support from Vikes Athletics, Camosun College and the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
Clint Hamilton, director of Vikes athletics and recreation, emceed a presentation at CARSA, highlighting the university’s efforts to make sports accessible for people with disabilities.
“When we opened CARSA, we did so as an opportunity to obviously build and create facilities that will meet the needs of the 20,000 student population here at UVic and 5,000 employees and faculty members,” he said, “but we did so with the very definitive purpose of wanting to reach out to our community and respond to the community.
“We wanted this facility to be accessible to people from across the ability spectrum. Obviously, it’s our goal to create as positive an experience as possible for all the people that come here.”
The presentation featured Fernwood’s Jeff Scott as the keynote speaker. Five years ago, Scott broke his C1, C5 and C6 vertebrae in a snowboarding accident, leaving him a quadriplegic, but through help from others and sports, he has regained a significant amount of strength and is able to do many tasks on his own.
“The community, right after my accident, was incredible. I had family, friends there everyday constantly – it was just a revolving door at the hospital,” he said. “It was amazing to see the cards come in from around the world, as far as Australia. That didn’t stop – it continued for a year that I was in hospital.”
Scott was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital, followed by the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, where he worked to heal and rebuild himself. He saw many other people with similar challenges who didn’t have the same support, urging him to start the Live It! Love It! Foundation, an organization focused on helping individuals with physical disabilities get back into sports.
“It helps create a community for them to connect with others, or at least give them the opportunity to try to do a sport that they might add to their daily life,” he said, noting wheelchair rugby sessions at Pearkes helped him regain his strength.
“Independence was huge for me before I got hurt, and it became a goal of mine to retain as much as I could after I got hurt. The stronger I became, the more independent I became. And what better way to get strong than to play a sport. I’m really excited to see things develop here at CARSA.”