The Northern Sport Accessibility Initiative (NSAI)

The Northern Sport Accessibility Initiative (NSAI) is a pilot project through the Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development and viaSport to examine barriers around and increase opportunities available to people with disabilities (visible, invisible, sensory, cognitive and physical) in Northern B.C. around physical activity, recreation and sport. Four main areas of focus are guiding this three-year pilot -Awareness, Participation, Capacity and Sustainability.

The approach is locally driven and provincially supported networking and programming. Currently, in year two, NSAI is focusing on awareness, delivery of sport pilots and establishing community Leadership Groups. They will be releasing a series of mini-documentary profiles featuring the challenges and triumphs of community advocates, ambassadors and sport participants who are carving out accessible opportunities for physical activity and recreation throughout Northern BC, and the huge impact this is having on a personal and community level. Look out for one featuring Bronze medallist and Paralympian and BC Alumni Caleb Brousseau.

The Community Leadership Groups (CLGs) will act as local stakeholders, advocates, champions for accessibility in sport and recreation. To complement the CLGs, we have established a growing pool of students, coaches, and potential volunteers interested in further opportunities for leadership, volunteerism and meaningful engagement with the communities in Northern B.C.

Sport pilot while unique to each community may explore but not be limited to recreation, sport, coach, participants and athlete opportunities. We are accepting interest to host or deliver a try-it or training day from Northern communities, provincials and local sport organizations as well as fitness facilities and recreation organizations.

If you see an opportunity to collaborate or extend your reach contact Northern Sport Accessibility Initiative Lead, Matthew Ewen. matthewe@viasport.ca, or 778-655-1741

Matthew took part in a CADS Course in Prince George earlier this season. Here is an account of his experience.

“I signed up for the CADS instructor course, expecting I’d learn how to put someone in a sit-ski and guide them down the hill. I could not believe the broad range of adaptations that were taught to me in one weekend! I learned how to use adapted equipment for individuals with an amputation, paraplegia, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities. My favourite part that surprised me was the portion on working with students who were on the Autism Spectrum.
 
My best friend is quadriplegic and I never thought this equipment could be adapted for him. It’s inspired me to get him out on the slopes with me and my friends!
 
I came out in my volunteer time, but it really added a lot to my part in the Northern Sport Accessibility Initiative. I made a lot of friends, and I feel more confident building opportunities for accessible sport in Northern B.C. I helped create a documentary with the great team at viaSport to feature the challenges and triumphs of community advocates, ambassadors and sport heroes who are carving out accessible opportunities for physical activity and recreation throughout Northern BC. Being part of this course and documentary brought me closer to the huge impact this is having on a personal and community level. I would love to see more people in the North aware of these opportunities.”