Embracing basketball from a wheelchair

It’s all about inclusiveness

  • Students get a chance to play wheelchair basketball
  • Allows children to gain a different perspective on disabled individuals
  • Learning the importance of managing in adaptive environments

Balls bounce, and wheelchairs race as students from a grade three class at Mar Jok Elementary School are introduced to a whole new skill. They’re playing wheelchair basketball.

Sport Development Program Coordinator at PacificSport, Carolyn Gillespie, told Kelowna10 the students are learning to navigate and utilize the wheelchair in order to be mobile.

“We are just so tickled and thrilled to be able to have a fleet of wheelchairs that we can share with the school district for the children to learn the importance of managing… in adaptive environments,” Gillespie said.

She added the students are learning to understand what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.

“It’s all about inclusiveness, and the teachers are just thrilled that we’re able to bring this to their school,” Gillespie said.

She enjoys seeing the children's excitement as they learn and understand the sport.

“Just having fun, seeing the smiles on their faces,” Gillespie added.

Volunteer at PacificSport, Paul Clark, has been disabled since he was 15 years old. He said it’s important for children to understand that somebody in a wheelchair is the same as them.

“I think for me, it’s really important that kids get over the feeling that somebody who is using a chair is so much different, or it’s something that they should feel sorry for,” Clark said.

He added you don’t have to feel sorry for people in chairs unless they’re needing some help.

“But at the same time, [people in wheelchairs] can do a lot of things better than you can,” Clark said.

He added teaching the sport is fun and he enjoys seeing the reaction of the kids.

“You can see them realize that it’s very different to have to do everything with your arms, as opposed to using your feet as well,” he added.

For Clark, wheelchair basketball allows him to switch things up from his normal wheelchair.

“Wheelchair basketball is a chance to move around quickly, do a lot of turning, and have a different wheelchair that acts differently than my regular city chair,” he said.

Clark has always had a competitive streak. When he was young he would always race people toward the door, and open it for them.

“I knew they were always going to try and open it for me, so I wanted to show the opposite.”

Published 2022-03-01 by Keelan Bourdon

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