Members of London’s accessible sport and physical activity community are excited to announce the formation of the Accessible Sport Council London and Area. The launch took place on January 29th at the Western Fair Sports Centre during the first evening of the 2010 London Blizzard Invitational Sledge Hockey Tournament.
Darda Sales, a three-time Paralympian (swimming) and one of the Council’s co-chairs, explained the importance of the Council’s creation, saying, “Physical activity and sport are a fundamental right of all people and I feel that this Council will play an important role in ensuring that accessible sporting opportunities continue to be available and promoted in our community.” Recognizing the 30 team strong sledge hockey tournament as but one example, Sales further commented, “There are a lot of very successful programs in London and area that offer accessible sport and physical activity opportunities, but awareness of these opportunities is still limited.” As Sales stated, “Some of the main goals of this Council are to encourage participation in these programs and to provide a one stop shop for anyone looking for information regarding accessible sporting and recreation opportunities in our community.”
Sales and the Council’s other co-chair, Murray Howard, who is also President of the George Bray Sports Association, were joined by Cathy Vincelli, Executive Director of ParaSport Ontario for the formal announcement of the Council. ParaSport Ontario presented the Accessible Sport Council London and Area with a $2500 start-up grant. Provided through bi-lateral funding from Sport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion via its Active 2010 – Sport for More program, the grant will be used to assist with the promotion and facilitation of accessible sport opportunities in London and area. ParaSport Ontario Executive Director, Cathy Vincelli said, “We are thrilled to officially be launching the first Accessible Sport Council in London. London has always been very supportive of ParaSport Ontario having hosted the 2006 Ontario Paralympic Summer Championships. We are looking forward to increasing ParaSport awareness and developing new programs for athletes with physical disabilities in the City of London.”
Providing insight into other benefits of the Council’s formation, Murray Howard explained, “The group’s formation provides various teams and groups offering accessible programming in London and area with the opportunity to come together to work in partnership, creating a strong voice and a more unified presence for accessible sport within London and region.” To that end, Howard emphasized, “We are interested in hearing from individuals or groups who are interested in becoming involved with the Council’s activities, as well as those who are interesting in finding out more about accessible sport and physical activity.” The group plans a dedicated website launch in the near future.