Wheelchair Basketball Canada Celebrates Inclusive Sport With Launch Of Schools Program

(Toronto, Ont.) Wheelchair Basketball Canada (WBC), in collaboration with the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association (OWSA), celebrated the official launch of its Schools Program this morning in front of 350 students at Banting and Best Public School in Scarborough.

The Schools Program is designed to educate teachers and students about the sport of wheelchair basketball and encourage youth, with or without a disability, to be physically active.

The Schools Program is made possible through a $630,500 Grow grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

“Wheelchair basketball is truly a sport for everyone and we are pleased to promote physical activity for youth of all abilities and share powerful messages about inclusion through the Schools Program,” said Wheelchair Basketball Canada Executive Director Wendy Gittens. “We wish to thank all of our tremendous partners, including the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sunrise Medical and the OWSA for their unwavering support in the delivery of this program.

“With the 2017 Men’s U23 World Championship coming to Toronto in June, we are thrilled to leverage event hosting to continue building meaningful legacies in the community. The Schools Program is one such legacy that will promote inclusion and support the development of the sport at the grassroots level leading up to and beyond the event.”

“I am happy to see that Wheelchair Basketball Canada is launching its Schools Program at Banting and Best Public School here in Scarborough,” said Raymond Cho, MPP for Scarborough-Rouge River.

“This initiative has the positive message of inclusivity and encouragement as it sets out to educate students and teachers about the sport of wheelchair basketball. This initiative will surely benefit young people here in Scarborough. Therefore, I want to congratulate Wheelchair Basketball Canada and thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for making the Schools Program possible.”

With the support of the OWSA, the Schools Program is currently being offered to elementary, middle and high schools in the GTA through to the 2018-19 school year.

“We are absolutely thrilled to work alongside such great partners to bring the excitement of wheelchair basketball to more schools in our community,” said OWSA Executive Director Laura Wilson. “Through this program we hope to inspire more children and youth to get involved and stay active while supporting the growth of the game in the GTA.”

The Schools Program provides teachers with the opportunity to host a sport demonstration featuring athlete role models, access to a national wheelchair basketball resource guide, and the opportunity for schools to rent sport wheelchairs which allows them to implement wheelchair basketball programming at their school.

Sunrise Medical, a world-leading sport wheelchair manufacturer and the official wheelchair supplier of Wheelchair Basketball Canada, has supplied 30 sport wheelchairs in support of the Schools Program.

“We are very excited and proud to be working alongside Wheelchair Basketball Canada on their numerous grassroots and development programs which will help grow the sport that we all love and support,” said Sunrise Medical National Sales Director Mike Longo.

Participating schools also have the opportunity to attend the Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship from June 8-16, 2017 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.

“The Schools Program is an excellent way to share our passion for wheelchair basketball with kids in the community and it is so great to see the smiles on their faces when they try the sport for the first time,” said Team Canada player and Paralympian Ben Moronchuk. “We really hope these kids stick with the sport and hope to see them come out and cheer on Team Canada at the world championship in June.”

Schools in the GTA can register to participate in the program by contacting Shirka Shuriye, Wheelchair Basketball Schools Program Coordinator, at 416-564-2185 or by email at schoolsprogram@wheelchairbasketball.ca.

The Schools Program is also a proud 2016 recipient of an RBC Learn to Play grant. The RBC Learn to Play Project provides grants to local organizations and community groups that are building the physical literacy of Canada’s kids and youth. RBC Learn to Play Project grants are funded by RBC and the Public Health Agency of Canada and delivered by ParticipACTION with support from Canadian Sport for Life.

About Wheelchair Basketball Canada

Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sport governing body responsible for the organization of the sport in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is committed to excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians from grassroots to high performance. Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport in which Canada is held in high esteem around the world for winning a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last seven Paralympic Games. For more information, visit www.wheelchairbasketball.ca.

About the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association

The Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association (OWSA) is the provincial governing body for wheelchair athletics, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis throughout the province of Ontario. The OWSA mission is to grow wheelchair sports opportunities across Ontario and the organization strives to create opportunities for athletes with disabilities to participate in sport at the recreational, competitive, and high performance levels. For more information, visit www.owsa.ca.

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF)

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the OTF is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. For more information, please visit www.otf.ca.

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