I’m sure everyone knows that the Olympics are taking over London, England this summer, but some of you might not have known that the Paralympics will take place after that. The open ceremonies take place on August 29 and kick off 12 days of everything from swimming, judo and cycling to wheelchair rugby, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball.
Just like the Olympics, the games feature elite athletes – the best in their fields that compete for the chance to represent their country. For most people, competing in the games also holds the extra significance of representing the disabled community. The success of the games has helped to chip away at the assumption that people with disabilities live different or lesser lives than our able-bodied counterparts. It is finally becoming apparent that a world-class athlete is one, regardless of the sport that they partake in.
As much as I hope that the achievements of Paralympic athletes change the views of people outside the disabled community, I am also glad to see it having more of an effect on the people within it. Just because some people may see you as “confined” to a wheelchair doesn’t make it true. It is true that you may not have the ability to get out of your chair; maybe you can’t move your arms or your legs very much, but that doesn’t matter. Any physical activity is incredibly valuable. What you gain when you are able to lift that extra 10 pounds, push those extra couple of feet or simply extend your arms higher might seem inconsequential. In reality it is so, so important. A journey of a thousand steps – or whatever you do – you know the rest.
Everything is easier said than done, but here are some things to get you started:
These options do not form a complete list of programs or activities. These are Edmonton or Alberta-based options, but it doesn’t mean that you are out of luck if you don’t live here. If you find that there are no organized programs in your area, don’t be discouraged, just be creative! You can go to a gym and have a personal trainer create a program for you. You can simply go for walks around your yard, or you can buy a set of weights or exercise bands and just go for it. However you choose to get active, know that if it works for you, it’s a great thing. However your journey goes is up to you, and I wish you the best of luck!