Abilities Centre and the Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club travel to Ireland to participate in the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament and International Mixed Ability Sport Conference.
As a country, the Canadian Sport Policy set a direction for all governments, institutions and organizations to make sure sport has a positive impact on the lives of all Canadians, our communities, and our country. Yet, many individuals consistently face barriers to participating in mainstream sport. Specific classifications and labels such as age, disability, race, gender and socioeconomic status limit an individual’s opportunity and choice over where and how they participate.
“Breaking down barriers to access sport and recreation for people of all ages and abilities is a core part of our vision at Abilities Centre” says Stuart McReynolds, President & CEO of Abilities Centre. “Abilities Centre’s purpose is to unlock potential through accessibility, while reimagining and redefining the way Canadians live, work and play. That is what Mixed Ability Sport achieves.”
Mixed Ability Sport takes an innovative approach to sport participation that focuses on breaking down barriers and creating equitable access to sport clubs and programs for all members of the community. Mixed Ability Sport welcomes players of all abilities into a mainstream sport setting in their local community playing non-adapted sports.
Led by UK-based International Mixed Ability Sport (IMAS), the model has grown on a global scale and was introduced in Canada by Abilities Centre through a formal partnership with IMAS in February 2020.
With support from Canadian Tire Jumpstart and Sport Canada, Abilities Centre has been able to adapt the Mixed Ability model to the Canadian landscape and introduce the model through the sport of rugby in collaboration with Rugby Ontario and the Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club. “The initial pilot of Mixed Ability Rugby saw immediate success” says Kelly Kasper, Director, Sport & Recreation at Abilities Centre. “Using the Mixed Ability model, we have been able to work with multiple grassroots rugby clubs to enhance their programs and not only increase membership for those living with a disability but also those who might be new to sport, returning from injury, or felt they had aged out of sport.”
The Oshawa Vikings are set to become Canada and North America’s first ever Mixed Ability Rugby Touring Team, consisting of men’s and women’s athletes, to participate in the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament (IMART) 2022 in Cork, Ireland June 5th
IMART 2022 will be the biggest tournament to date with 1,000 athletes across 28 teams representing 14 different nations competing for the overall Winners Trophy. This year, IMART will also be hosting the first ever Women’s Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament with 4 teams consisting of players from 9 countries around the world.
Alongside the tournament, Abilities Centre staff, and invited delegates from Rugby Ontario and Rugby Canada, will also be participating the Mixed Ability Sport Conference, The Future of Mixed Ability: For Sport and Beyond,
presenting on the success of the introduction of Mixed Ability Sport in Canada.
Abilities Centre is also partnering with Toronto-based Rock Solid Productions to introduce and demonstrate to the global forum, Mixed Ability Floor Curl, a concept piloted in Canada.
Initial conversations have kicked off between Abilities Centre and multiple National Sport Organizations as well as local sports clubs looking to implement the Mixed Ability model to increase both participation and quality experiences for all.
About Abilities Centre
Abilities Centre’s purpose is to unlock potential through accessibility. By building a better, barrier-free life for all Canadians we can reimagine accessibility and redefine the way that Canadians live, work and play. Our multi-award winning, world-class innovation hub is used to co-design, test and scale accessible and inclusive programs of the highest quality and value across Canada. We educate and inform people, through research and storytelling, on the need to celebrate the diverse backgrounds and abilities of all Canadians.
About International Mixed Abilities Sport (IMAS)
IMAS is at the forefront of a global movement challenging the orthodoxy of grassroots sports provision. Our vision is to radically change the way we think of, join in and enjoy sports, leading to a fairer and more equal society. Mixed Ability emphasizes regular, frequent and sustainable activities, self-determination, club membership and opportunities for social interaction for everyone. This creates sporting environments that are safe, welcoming and non-judgmental. For more information, please visit www.mixedabilitysports.org
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Director, Sport & Recreation
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