A Try Day grant has led to an amazing opportunity for equity and inclusion for high school students in Ottawa and the surrounding areas.
Pre-pandemic, John McCrae Secondary School applied for the Try Day grant to introduce wheelchair basketball to their physical education classes. They partnered with Emily Glossop of Abilities Centre Ottawa who runs an incredible para sport program and the classes learned about para sports and inclusivity, and got to try wheelchair basketball, a sport which they loved.
This led to the idea of creating a mixed ability wheelchair basketball tournament for high schools in Ottawa. Students with and without disabilities play together and compete for their high school team. All of the high schools playing in the tournament have had a para sport day with Abilities Centre Ottawa which included an education session on para sport and the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball.
Assisted by the athletic leadership class at John McCrae, the tournament was designed with the goals of fostering an environment of inclusivity in sport, reducing stigma and increasing awareness. Students with a disability participate on a team with their peers, leading to increased participation, confidence and inclusion beyond the tournament itself. This event heightened the other students’ awareness about disability and the barriers their classmates with a disability face, reduced stigma, and fostered a community of inclusion within the school. Educators gained a better understanding of how they can offer variations to participation within their class curriculum to meet the needs of students with a disability. Coaches selected diverse and inclusive teams to compete in the tournament on behalf of their schools.
Carleton University has been an excellent partner and the tournament takes place in their Ravens Nest gym. Last year the tournament had eight teams. This year it took place on May 3 and was expanded to include twelve teams with a school even traveling from Arnprior to join. All of the teams that participated in the tournament are getting free tickets to attend an International game at the Ravens Nest to watch Canada’s Men’s National Wheelchair Team take on the Netherlands team on May 18th.
The John McCrae leadership students partnered with Abilities Centre Ottawa, Wheelchair Basketball Canada, Ottawa Carleton Wheelchair Sports Association and the NCSSAA to make this successful tournament come to life.
Thank you to Jenn Talbot, Athletic Director at John McRae Secondary School in Ottawa for her involvement and for providing this article of information. For all of her efforts in coordinating this grant program each year, OFSAA would like to express their gratitude to Try Day Manager Diana Ranken.
Learn more about the OFSAA Try Day grant program at ofsaa.on./programs/try day.