GIVE UP, GIVE IN, OR GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT by Jan Ditchfield

(This blog post is personal. They are my real thoughts. Mine and mine alone.)

Image of Brian Cowie and Jan Ditchfield

With Brian Cowie at 70.3 Worlds in Clearwater 2010.

I have been asked a million times since I began working in my field why I do what I do and why as an able-bodied person I made my career advocating for persons with disabilities. I’ve answered it the same way a million times; “It’s not about me, so it doesn’t really matter why.”

I’ve stuck with that same line for almost ten years now, but more and more I have been thinking about the “why”. Not why I do it or why I started. But why I stay. Continue reading

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The Classification of Disability by John Young

Image of John Young exiting the swim at a triathlon.

John Young exiting the swim at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.

As many paratriathletes are aware, paratriathlon will be included in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.  Already, teams are starting to get ramped-up, and athletes are continuing to train in the hopes of representing their country in 4 years on an international stage.  Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the world as it is one of the only ones where both amateur and professional often race on the same course at the same time.  Like-wise paratriathlon is growing with both athletes who have been physically challenged since birth or childhood along with athletes who became disabled later in life either from an accident, injury during war, or some condition they acquired. Continue reading

My Mentor, My friend, My Inspiration by Leona Emberson

The most significant and impactful vision habilitation therapy I ever received came through meeting a friend and mentor. This woman, who I had the privilege and honour to call my friend and mentor, had the same visual condition as me, worked for the same employer, and had the generous spirit and love of life I strive to embrace.

For those reading who have had, and accepted, the opportunity to develop this perfect mentorship match, you will understand what this relationship meant to me. For those of you who have not yet had this hounour, this gift of life altering time and encouragement, I will try to explain what it means.

This woman understood the challenges I faced daily, because she had lived them. She understood the things I could not do, because she had already discovered them. She knew how to face the challenges and adversity I faced, because she had already battled them. She knew when to encourage me to fight, and when to stand aside and let me discover the adventure alone. Continue reading

Para-Sports: My Second Chance at High Level Sports By Dave Carragher

Image of Dave Carragher and his guide running to the finish line at Paratriathlon Nationals

Dave Carragher and his guide, Carl Burgess completing the Sprint triathlon for Silver at the Paratriathlon Nationals in Kelowna, BC.

As I rode my bike down the street, or went for a run or a swim as a sighted person, no one thought anything about it. I was just seen as an active kid. As a sighted athlete, I was just another guy on the team; not a superstar by any means.

I know everyone has their place, but like many other athletes, I also realized in able-bodied sports the childhood dreams of making the pros was definitely not a realistic goal for me as my sight began to fade.

Now after I have lost my vision and I have been given the opportunities to get back into sports, my dream of being able to make the Olympic team has been restored. Only now I will have the chance to compete at the Paralympics; where I will be able to compete against other visually impaired athletes instead of fully sighted athletes as I did when I was younger and going through the process of losing my vision. Continue reading

Supporting my Paralympian Friends; It shouldn’t be this hard by Leona Emberson

I am blessed to have a number of inspiring and motivating Paralympians in my life who I call my friends. Some of them I have known since I was in high school, and some I have gotten to know in recent years. I have had the honour of playing goalball with and against the members of the Canadian Women’s Goalball team. I have run on the same path, although a few paces behind, members of the Canadian ParaAthletics track team. These experiences have helped me gain respect for them, and their counterparts as athletes.

What has had a more significant impact on my life has been the time I have spent with these friends out of the sports venue. The time in the coffee shop chatting, or in a theater watching a movie. The time we sit in each others living rooms playing cards or relaxing in front of the television. We have been with each other for graduations, weddings, and first jobs. We have been with each other as we have developed as athletes, and into adults. Continue reading