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Special chairs promote sport to youth

Assumption School first to receive wheels
Kyle Wells

  VIDEO    – Ten undersized sports wheelchairs are making the rounds through Powell River elementary schools to promote wheelchair basketball and give students a chance to try the sport.

The chairs are here as part of the Let’s Play Project, an initiative of BC Wheelchair Basketball Society, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the province intended to get children interested in wheelchair basketball from an early age. In total the society has purchased 100 chairs to be distributed throughout the province.

The chairs are specifically designed for children eight years old and under and come in a variety of dimensions. Like all athletic wheelchairs they have a third wheel in the centre of the back of the chair for stability and pivoting. All the wheelchairs come with straps both to stop the player from falling out and to help able-bodied players to not use their legs.

Lindsay Peake, the Let’s Play Project area coordinator and manager of Powell River Ravens Wheelchair Basketball team, visited Assumption Catholic School on January 20 to deliver the chairs and teach students how to get started. Peake ran the young athletes through the basics: strapping into chairs, backward and forward motion, dribbling, picking the ball up off the floor and other essential skills.

The students had a good time as they ran through some drills, played a game of tag and then settled into some four-on-four ball. Teachers took turns in a full-sized chair, joining in on the game of tag and enjoying the challenge. It seemed that getting the ball in the basket was the hardest part of the game for everyone, as the height of the basket remains the same as normal despite athletes remaining seated.

“The idea is to get kids involved in wheelchair basketball regardless of their abilities,” said Peake.

Peake expects the chairs to stay in the community until March 31 when they will be distributed elsewhere. Until then they will be making stops at various schools in the district and a few will be available at regular Ravens practices on Fridays from 4 to 6 pm at Oceanview Secondary School. Anyone is welcome to try the sport at a practice or to join the team. They need to be able to throw and catch a five-foot pass, follow directions in a team environment, independently wheel a chair and participate with a positive attitude.

For more information, readers can contact Lindsay Peake at 604.485.2688.