The Situation in Canada
Approximately 14% of Canadians have a sensory, intellectual or physical disability, and some of these persons may have more than one disability. Canada has been recognized for achieving outstanding success in Paralympic sport, Special Olympics, Deaflympics, and other sports for athletes with disabilities, but there are concerns that systemic factors continue to limit access to sport and physical activity for persons with disabilities. There are also concerns that Canada’s pool of high-performance athletes is not being replenished as our current athletes age. As such, we need to continue to drive the training and support for inclusive programming from grassroots through to high performance.
How Sport for Life Supports Athletes with Disabilities
No Accidental Champions describes some of the opportunities and challenges that face persons with permanent disabilities in pursuing sport and physical activity, and how the Canadian sport system can best accommodate their needs for increased activity and greater achievement through Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD). Not all individuals with disability will pursue competition; however, this should not exclude them from opportunities to learn sport skills and become active for life.
Long-Term Athlete Development provides a clear path of developmental stages to help persons with disabilities pursue their goals in sport and physical activity. Note the addition of two extra stages for persons with disabilities: Awareness and First Involvement.