Teaching Wheelchair Basketball

My name is Shirka Shuriye and I have had the great fortune to champion the Schools Program for Wheelchair Basketball Canada. This program is designed to increase awareness about wheelchair basketball, promote physical activity for youth, and share powerful messages about inclusion in sport and in everyday life. To date, I have presented at over 90 schools in front of over 20,000 staff and students in the Greater Toronto Area since early January. The immediate goal is to reach 120 elementary, middle, and high schools and 40,000-50,000 students in the GTA by June 2017. Every presentation at these schools culminates with students playing wheelchair basketball. It is the high point of the presentation with staff and students alike cheering on a select few students as they play a sport that most have never had the opportunity to play before.

2017 Schools Program launch

Having the opportunity to go to multiple schools all across the Toronto area for these presentations has been incredibly rewarding. Every school and every presentation is unique which makes this program so much fun for me. One message we hope resonates at every presentation is how inclusive wheelchair basketball is. It is a sport where an able-bodied individual can play with an individual that may have a disability. Not too many sports are as integrated as wheelchair basketball, which often surprises people at the presentations.

Another key message at these presentations is informing these schools about the upcoming 2017 Men's U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. From June 8-16, 2017 Toronto will host some of the top junior male wheelchair basketball athletes on the planet. There will be 42 games over the course of eight days at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto. This is an event that does not come around too often, so we hope to get as many schools as possible to come down and experience wheelchair basketball at a very high level.

The opportunity for students to play wheelchair basketball with the Schools Program is made possible through the generous support of partners like Sunrise Medical. Sunrise Medical, the world-leading manufacturer of the Quickie brand of sport chairs, is the official wheelchair supplier of Wheelchair Basketball Canada and has provided more than 30 chairs to support the Schools Program. In addition to the presentations, schools participating in the Schools Program are eligible for the sport wheelchair rental program. This is a program in which 10-12 sport wheelchairs are dropped off at participating schools for 1-2 weeks and allows teachers to implement wheelchair basketball programming at their school.

School children playing wheelchair basketball

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is also a major partner of the Schools Program and has made a tremendous commitment with funding over the next three years to ensure the success of this program. Another key partner is the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association (OWSA), which has greatly assisted in the delivery of the Schools Program.

Looking to the future of this program, the goal is to introduce wheelchair basketball into curricula all across the province. We hope that the Schools Program is a set in the right direction in growing wheelchair basketball within Ontario and eventually throughout Canada.

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Date: 4/25/2017 12:00:00 AM

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