Outdoors For All

Great strides are happening in adaptive sports

The importance of recreation is well researched and perhaps unquestioned, and this is certainly the case for those experiencing disability. How a disability affects an individual varies of course and can range from physical, intellectual, sensory, and developmental. Thankfully, across Canada there are several programs that are leading the way with inclusive and accessible experiences, and these are examples for others to mirror.

There are also several other commercial enterprises that are recognizing the benefits of handicapitalism and pursuing innovative approaches that ensure people experiencing disability can participate equitably.

Based in Canmore, AB, Rocky Mountain Adapted offers outdoor programs for every season including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter camping. In the summer, participants can take part in biking, kayaking and hiking including the use of a trail-rider, which is a modified wheelchair that looks like a cross between a wheelbarrow and a rickshaw. Friends are positioned in the front and back and act as sherpas by pushing and pulling the trail rider along the hike.

New to the Alberta adapted outdoor scene is Adaptable Outdoors, based out of Pincher Creek, AB, now entering their second summer of adventure programming. Programs include hiking, fishing and paddling.

In British Columbia, Whistler Adapted offers similar programs as well as swimming, triathlon, yoga and gymnastics.

 Bowhead Corp
Photo: Bowhead Corp

The Niagara Penguins in St. Catharines, ON offer programs in handcycling and boccia, among others, for youth and young adults with a physical disability.

All Trails now provides hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers focusing on trail access for persons using wheelchairs.

There are also a plethora of commercial enterprises developing innovations through technology and equipment. Bowhead Corp adapted bikes in Bragg Creek, AB is pioneering the design of accessible mountain bikes, and Arc’teryx recently showcased the creation of a prosthesis for climbing that mimicked the design of a mountain goat’s hoof.

Canada has fantastic outdoor recreation opportunities and kudos to the organizations profiled here that are helping enable persons experiencing disability to not just participate but lead and thrive.

By David Legg, Ph.D – Professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, AB

By Karen Dommett – Program Manager, Calgary Adapted Hub powered by Jumpstart in Calgary, AB

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