The initiative of inclusion began in 1985 at the Canada Summer Games in Saint John, New Brunswick, when a men’s 1500-m wheelchair race was included as a demonstration event. At the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, Canadians saw the first-ever full inclusion of athletes with disabilities in the games. Athletes in men’s and women’s wheelchair track, and in swimming events for people with visual disabilities, came together with able-bodied counterparts to share the joy of athletic competition.
The Canada Games Council has worked extremely hard with national sports organizations and multi-sport organizations such as the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (CWSA) to include athletes with disabilities fully in all components of the games experience.
“It is very important that the social agenda of the government and of the Canadian population is mirrored clearly in programs such as the Canada Games,” explains Lane MacAdam, President and CEO of the Canada Games Council. “It is important to recognize that sports can contribute to so many things other than the field of play. The sport community has to be more representative of society at large.”
It is this representation which is strived for by organizations such as CWSA.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure the athlete’s experiences are second to none in terms of the athlete’s being able to say that he or she was treated with dignity, respect, and as an athlete first rather than as a ’disabled person,’” says MacAdam. Now, aren’t those the wishes of EVERY athlete?
(Roch Pilon is Director of Communications at the Canadian Wheelchair Sport Association.)
THE CANADIAN WHEELCHAIR SPORTS ASSOCIATION:
THE MISSION: To promote excellence and develop opportunities for Canadians in wheelchair sport.
THE VISION: DESTINATION 2000. CWSA is the leader of wheelchair sport development in the capacity of advisor, resource and advocate for athletes with a disability. CWSA offers programs and services which reflect inclusion and sport-specific development.
THE VALUES: CWSA believes in:
– the value of sport
– participant-based sport development
– centering on the athlete
– ethical conduct and behaviour
– equity and access
– inclusion as a fundamental process
– cooperation and collaboration with partners
– quality service
– people as the number-one resource
– dynamic and pioneering leadership
CANADIAN WHEELCHAIR SPORT ASSOCIATION – NATIONAL OFFICE
1600 JAMES NAISMITH DRIVE
GLOUCESTER, ON K1B 5N4
TEL: (613) 748-5685
FAX: (613) 748-5722