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The Sport Information Resource Centre

Powerchair sports are played by people with disabilities who use power wheelchairs. Powerchairs make sport accessible to athletes with a range of disabilities and eliminate performance differences usually associated with gender and age. Because of this, powerchair sports are considered some of the most inclusive sports: athletes of diverse abilities, ages and genders compete together on one team!

“My daughter once told me, ‘Mum, you do everything for us. You should do something for yourself,” recalls 4-time Paralympian Ina Forrest, reflecting back on the early days of her wheelchair curling career. Over the years, Forrest has come to appreciate how her involvement in sport has modeled important values for her children, including how to set goals and support each other to achieve them. This #MomsGotGame.

People with disabilities face more than 200 barriers to physical activity participation. As a result, children, youth and adults with disabilities are up to 62% less likely to meet the World Health Organizations physical activity guidelines than the general population. While the Paralympic Games have the potential to inspire sport participation, serious action and investments are needed to achieve true accessibility in our built environments, policies and communities.

Today is Commonwealth Day, an annual celebration of the Commonwealth nations. This year, the XXII Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to August 8. The Birmingham 2022 competition schedule features a fully integrated Para sport program and, for the first time in Commonwealth Games history, more medal events for women than men.

Recovery from training can help athletes reduce injuries and enjoy longer careers, but very little is known about athlete recovery in Para sport. According to new research, collaborating with athletes, trusting athletes’ expertise about their bodies, and individualizing recovery strategies are important considerations for practitioners working with Para sport athletes.

Para athletes are frequently exposed to concussion risk, particularly in high-speed and impact type sports such as Para alpine skiing, Para ice hockey and wheelchair basketball. They’re also exposed to concussion risk in sports where the risk to the non-Para athlete would be considered low, for example, in track-wheelchair racing, where crashes happen often.

Athlete development pathways in Para sport can be varied and complex, research shows. Different classification systems, disability-specific characteristics, and individual athletes’ histories can all impact development pathways. Researchers conclude that Para sport needs its own development models that account for the complexity of Para athlete experiences.

After 2020 surprised us all with a global pandemic, many of us looked to 2021 with hope for a gradual return to our pre-pandemic “normal.” And with the widespread rollout and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, the activities that we put on hold as the pandemic unfolded, from social gatherings to travel, began to make a comeback.

Look no further than the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which brought together nearly 15,000 athletes in the summer of 2021, for an example of how the sporting world has learned to adapt and thrive in the age of COVID-19. The Government of Canada also committed $170 million in funding to support the recovery of the sport sector in its 2021 Budget, further reinforcing sport’s crucial role in our country’s broader social and economic recovery.

 And while we continue to face challenges, from new COVID-19 variants to climate disasters, SIRC continues to provide credible, responsive and relevant content to meet the needs of the Canadian sport sector. For a closer look at how SIRC embraced the “new normal” in 2021, cruise through our top content in SIRC’s 2021 year in review.

January

Mature woman wearing swim goggles at swimming pool. Fit active senior woman enjoying retirement standing in swimming pool and looking at camera. Happy senior healthy old woman enjoying active lifestyle.The 2021 Winter SIRCuit put a spotlight on Masters Athletes, an important call to action for creating better sport experiences for adults that are “beyond the typical age of peak performance.” Masters Athletes (Mas) can often be an after-thought in sport organizations, but this article speaks to the tremendous opportunity and value in reversing that trend.

February

SIRC produced an important blog in collaboration with the BIPOC Varsity Association at the University of Toronto: Tackling racism on campus. It includes an innovative approach to combatting racism within universities and colleges.

February also featured SIRC’s 2021 Concussion in Sport Symposium. The symposium focused on key research topics emerging in the concussion field, such as sex- and gender-related differences in concussions. It also featured key leaders in sport, such as Canadian Men’s National Team Head Coach, John Herdman.

March

SIRC launched Mom’s Got Game, an awareness campaign supporting and celebrating moms’ participation in sport and physical activity. In collaboration with Bell Media and other partners, we brought attention to the latest research and evidence. We also called on moms to share their stories of success and challenges, and the results were inspiring.

April

SIRC’s webinars continued into April, with a new mini-series focused on program evaluation skills. The accompanying resource helps sport organizations with all aspects of evaluation, from start to finish: Toolkit: Mastering the Art of Evaluation.

The spring 2021 SIRCuit was published, including an important article focused on addressing climate change in the Canadian sport sector.

May

LGBTQ2S+ Pride Flag with shadows of people in the backgroundOn International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)—a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities marked annually on May 17th—SIRC published an educational piece in collaboration with Egale Canada.

June

In June, SIRC published a unique blog diving into a new model of co-participation for women and girls in sport called “Swim Together.” The program was developed in collaboration between University of Waterloo researchers, the Township of Woolwich, Ontario, and the Woolwich Wave Swim Team.

July

The Tokyo Olympics was one of Team Canada’s most successful Summer Games ever. Our country’s 24 medals were good for 11th overall and was the second-highest total in Canada’s history at the Summer Olympics.

SIRC published a Special Edition SIRCuit in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games, including four articles that showcase Canadian leadership at the highest level of sport with regards to safe sport and concussion. The spirit of Canadian athletes shines through this article, Can you hear me now? The emergence of the athlete voice in Canadian Sport.

August

Canada’s Paralympic Team put in a strong effort at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, earning 21 total medals and five golds, and again the leadership of Canada’s Paralympians shone through.

From the para-sport community, Stephanie Dixon, Chef de Mission for Canada’s 2020 Paralympic Team is featured in this SIRC article: Performing in a Pandemic: The Resilience and Leadership of Canadian Athletes.

September

Para athlete passing a ball during a wheelchair basketball gameCanada’s inaugural Concussion Awareness Week took place September 26 – October, 2021. To help the week gain momentum across Canada, SIRC published a concussion themed SIRCuit that same week. These were five articles diving into the latest advances of concussion safety in Canadian sport. The article that’s resonated the most has been Concussion in Para athletes: One size doesn’t fit all, featuring Dr. Jamie Kissick who speaks to the gaps in para-sport concussion research as well as the work that’s being done to address it.

October

The 15th annual Sport Canada Research Initiative (SCRI) Conference brought together more than 1,000 stakeholders in Canadian sport virtually to hear from Canada’s leaders and researchers on the latest research and innovations in Canadian sport.

All the key sessions are available on SIRC’s YouTube page, including a panel titled Truth and recognition: what this means for sport leaders.

November

To help support and advance gender equity in Canadian sport, SIRC partnered with Canadian Women & Sport to create a series of webinars titled Engaging Girls and Women in Sport Mini Series. Part 3 of the series – Engaging Black Community Coaches – takes place in Feb. 2022!

December

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, mothers continue to be put under pressure. Following the Mom’s Got Game campaign in the spring, SIRC published another new article focused on supporting moms in December, titled “Playing for team motherhood”: Returning to team sport after childbirth. Stay tuned for more content to support moms in the spring of 2022!

Thank you to everyone who collaborated, partnered, and contributed to SIRC in 2021! And a special shout-out to SIRC’s readers, viewers, and participants. Your participation and support are crucial to SIRC’s network and the knowledge-to-action process. We’re excited to welcome you back to SIRC’s channels in 2022!

In wheelchair sports, wearable sensors present an opportunity for para-athletes to assess and analyze their gameplay and training statistics, such as wheelchair speed and acceleration. Wearable sensors can be used to measure electrical signals in muscles, allowing athletes and their support teams to assess training and performance in nuanced ways.

For Para athletes, existing concussion assessment tools, like the SCAT5, can be useful, but may require modification. In its first position statement, the Concussion in Para Sport Group address adaptations for concussion assessment, management and return to sport for Para athletes. For example, the Wheelchair Error Scoring System (WESS) can be used with the SCAT5 to assess balance for wheelchair athletes.