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Introducing: Parasport, a series

This is an introduction to our new Parasport series, where we will be talking about different sports for people with disabilities. 

Parasport is a term used to describe sports played by people with disabilities, physical and intellectual. Other terms that may often be used are adapted/adaptive sports and disability sport. Some sports have been adapted for people with disabilities, and other sports were created specifically for people with disabilities. Parasport is present at all levels of sport and physical activity, from grassroots programming to national teams and international games. There are many grassroots organizations that promote adapted physical activity. In Calgary, Alberta, some organizations include but are not limited to Rocky Mountain Adaptive, Vecova Recreation Centre and HEROS Hockey. All of these organizations focus on accessibility in their programming, and we would like to follow in their footsteps by continuing to improve accessibility and inclusion in our programs. 

Parasport has its own Olympic games, called the Paralympics. This is the largest parasport event. There have been concerns about the Paralympics and their athletes. This calls for more equitable opportunity and support, including broadcasting and promotion. I look forward to seeing continued improvement on the international sport stage.  

Parasport and adapted physical activity have begun to be more present in education, with many Kinesiology programs including a course about adapted physical activity. These courses usually introduce different disabilities and how to support these athletes and participants. As a sport and recreation management graduate, I took a class like this, and it really changed my perspective of sport and athletes and introduced a whole industry I could work in to continue developing these programs. It was one of my favourite classes! 

Parasport and adapted physical activity are important to give people with disabilities opportunities that they have often been excluded from. Physical activity is an essential part of life, with many physical and mental benefits that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy. It is also great to build community. Sport is somewhere that we meet new people and make memories. Parasport is no different. 

There are differences between parasport and traditional sport, but there are also many similarities. Athletes are still athletes and reach great accomplishments. Stay tuned to learn more about different parasports, like wheelchair rugby, seated volleyball and many more.