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“ We all want to be welcomed and accepted. We all want to be included and be active and have fun. ”


Photo by Kimberly Tiessen


one to play together and enjoy the benefits of inclusive activity. We all have varied skills and abilities and experience. When you create a ven- ue that understands these differenc- es it creates access for everyone. We have over 6,000 members here. The doors are open to all members of our community.


Even the word “disability” conjures certain profiles in the minds of most. When we ditch the terminol- ogy, and the accompanying labels, people are people. Really, we all want the same things. We all want to be welcomed and accepted. We all want to be included and be active and have fun.


DTN: Your favourite part of your job?


Archie: Hands-down it’s hands-on... the practical application when I’m working on the floor with partici- pants. It’s really rewarding to see the confidence swell in people when they gain knowledge and under- standing of how sport can include everyone – particularly when stu- dents or professionals understand how they can play an important part


in inclusive programming in their communities. It’s amazing to wit- ness how audiences are captivated by our participants’ personal stories, totally inspired and motivated to share that message and advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.


DTN: How about frustrations?


Archie: Lack of funding inherent in sport and nonprofit organizations. It comes down to lack of education and awareness. I’ve seen dramatic changes since I began here in the mid-‘80s. We’ve moved away from telethons to more mainstream me- dia images of people with disabili- ties, but not enough. There are in- credible educators and advocates in the disability community who have made significant differences – like Rick Hansen, Terry Fox, Jeff Adams, Tracey Ferguson, Adam Lancia and Chantal Petitclerc, for example.


DTN: It seems that it’s always re- markable athletes from the disability community who are getting media recognition. What about entertainers or professionals, and others?


Archie: The athletes’ messages transcend sport. It carries over into other areas and levels of daily life like employment, transportation, or accessibility, for example. Things are definitely changing for the positive; I mean, look, the former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley, is a person with a disability.


DTN: Let’s talk about parents of kids with disabilities. Studies have shown that at times, these parents can prove to be one of the most handi- capping conditions for special needs kids when it comes to taking risks, like getting involved in sport maybe. Is that your experience?


Archie: Some parents of kids with disabilities may lack the education, resources and support that they need. But once those parents or guardians bear witness to the oppor- tunities and resources that are out there, or see other kids with dis- abilities who are thriving in physical activity, it changes everything. The parents become more motivated to be proactive and become better ad- vocates for their kids, pushing them forward into inclusive opportunities.


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www.disabilitytodaynetwork.com


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