By Mark Colley
Boxing, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and many more — it’s all on the table at the Ottawa Inclusive and Para Sport Expo taking place this Saturday, June 4 at the Ravens Nest at Carleton University.
The Expo, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature booths and demonstrations from 25 sport organizations in Ottawa with the aim of showcasing adaptive sport for people who want to participate or volunteer.
“It’s not just, we’re gonna show off this sport, but we’re gonna show it off and you’re gonna come and play with us,” highlights Emily Glossop, co-chair of the expo organizing committee and executive director of Abilities Centre Ottawa.
Expo attendees can expect exhibits from organizations such as Under The Surface Scuba, Boccia Canada, the Nepean Sailing Club, Special Olympics Ontario and other local groups offering accessible sports opportunities (see poster below to view all participants).
“People can just sort of make the rounds and try what they like,” explains Chantal Deketele, co-chair of the expo planning committee and director of Boxing Without Barriers, a program for children, youth and adults with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities.
Coming at the end of National AccessAbility Week, the expo is part of a broader celebration that includes a wheelchair basketball tournament for local high schools on June 3, a try-it session for para athletics at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility on June 5, and an Ontario Regional Boccia Series stop in Ottawa (alongside a 1-3 p.m. boccia try-it session on June 4 at Carleton).
“We know that sport and physical activity really bring people together,” underlines Lindsay Bradley, a sport medicine physician at Carleton who is involved in planning the expo. “[Children with disabilities] have been impacted the most I think with COVID pandemic closures, so it’s really going to be exciting to see them out.”
The expo is also an opportunity for local organizations to spread the word about their program and connect with other groups.
Bradley says they hope to reach organizations who don’t currently have programs for athletes with a disability. The expo will have a “coach’s corner” where organizations can come and learn how to make their group more inclusive.
The expo is “open to the whole community,” Bradley underlines.
“Anybody who wants to kind of just come out and see and watch the demos themselves,” she adds. “We’ll have a number of Paralympians there as well showing off medals and talking about their stories.”
The hope for Bradley, Deketele and Glossop is that the expo becomes an annual event that keeps growing.
“I didn’t expect it to be this large or have all these great other events surrounding it when I thought of it,” Deketele notes. “I just kind of put it out there and enough people have gotten on board with me … It’s just fantastic.”
Participating organizations are highlighted in the event poster:
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