‘Choose your adventure’: Manitoba expo shows how sports can be part of life with disability

Recreation organizations gathered in Niverville, Man., on Saturday for the Accessible Sport Connection Manitoba Expo, where they tood advantage of opportunities to demonstrate how they’re bringing sports to people living with disabilities.

Kirby Cote, executive director of ASC Manitoba, said this year’s event represents the first time the event was held outside of Winnipeg, a move that helps reach a newer audience.

“Whether you’re a person who uses an adapted device like a wheelchair, or if you’re blind or visually impaired, there is something here for you,” Cote said.

“Accessible Sport Connection believes that everyone should have access to physical activity in their community with their friends and family.”

That includes people like Peter Tonge, the former executive director of the Manitoba Wheelchair Sports Association. He’s a fan of wheelchair fencing and says he’s loved the sport ever since he learned about it from a friend.

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“It’s fun, it’s competitive. And I can see my progress as I’m learning,” he said.

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Tonge also said he’s looking for more people to join wheelchair fencing with Fencing Manitoba. There are only three people currently in the program, which was founded in 2022, according to the ASC.

For ASC Manitoba board member Spencer Lambert, the expo was a great place to highlight his work on an accessible electric bike he made as part of a college engineering technology course.

“This is probably the first big event that I’ve been able to bring it out to show, show other people and hopefully inspire other people to design things and create things that maybe you can’t afford buying off the shelf,” he said. “You can put things together and create your own.”

As for Cote, it’s nice having a place to help people with disabilities find new activities. After all, she said, it can be scary to leave the house and try something new.

“This environment is like a choose-your-own-adventure space, and we’re here to help you choose your own adventure,” she said.

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