December 3 is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Today we hear from Corey as he reflects on sports, COVID and accessibility.
“I have a disability called spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Spina bifida is what medical professionals call a ‘snowflake condition’ — no two cases are exactly the same. For me, it basically just means I have limited feeling and movement from the knees down. Up to about a block from my house I’ll walk with crutches, but anything further I’ll use my wheelchair.
A couple of months ago I started working as a sledge hockey instructor for school kids. I’ve been playing sledge hockey for over 20 years. As a kid, when I was on the ice, I didn’t feel like I had a disability, so I’ve always been drawn to sports and the camaraderie of having teammates around. I’m a very sociable person.
When COVID hit and we lost sports, it was tough — not being able to see people and not getting that physical activity. It was really difficult not being able to connect with my friends. But I was able to stay active. I rented a hand cycle attachment for my chair from You Can Ride 2 in Edmonton and I did virtual workouts through the Spina Bifida Association. Having a disability, I’ve always had to be resilient and resourceful. So honestly, the pandemic has been tough but not as tough as it might have been for others. I’ve always had to be adaptable — even just to get around.
The world is not set up for people with disabilities, so to have December 3 recognized by the U.N. to bring awareness is huge. It’s saying, ‘Hey, people with disabilities do live in our communities. Let’s be adaptive and make things more accessible.’ ”
— Corey, Strathcona County resident
This story is part of our community recovery work to encourage empathy and connection as we continue to face COVID-19. If you’re struggling with your mental health, finances or just feel overwhelmed, call our Family and Community Services line at 780-464-4044.