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Winnipeg injury rehab center champions inclusivity with wheelchair curling tournament

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg injury rehab center champions inclusivity with wheelchair curling tournament'
Winnipeg injury rehab center champions inclusivity with wheelchair curling tournament
A Winnipeg injury rehab organization hosted a wheelchair curling tournament on Saturday - to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Global's Katherine Dornian has more -- on a community coming together to try a new sport. – Dec 10, 2023

First Steps Wellness Centre in Winnipeg hosted a wheelchair curling tournament on Saturday at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities.

The centre, which specializes in spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions, hosted the event to encourage people to experience sport from a chair.

“We find that there’s not a lot of representation, but there’s also not a lot of conversation around people living in chairs, or living with disabilities. So just exposing the public to something different, maybe something they’ve never seen before,” said Jonas Mark, manager of First Steps Wellness Centre.

While players are competing in a friendly tournament, many are playing the sport for the first time. They can either throw the rock by hand or use the push stick.

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“The aim is different – I’m a curler by nature, so the aim is totally different, turning the stick is different. It’s definitely a different mindset out there,” said Janelle Fillion.

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Because there’s no sweeping involved, it requires a high degree of accuracy.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks. I thought I was gonna be fantastic at it, but I was very much humbled,” said Claire Desjardins.

Along with awareness, the event aimed to raise $10,000 for the centre.

Jeff Richmond said he started as a client at First Steps in 2017 and is now a board member. He said the event is a chance to celebrate the progress they’ve made through exercise therapy and the community they’ve built together.

“When people are in chairs, sometimes the success that they’re experiencing – you won’t be able to see with your eyes, but they can feel it inside and out.”

He said he hopes to use the success to promote a sporting environment where everyone can be included.

— with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

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