We recently spoke with British Columbia Wheelchair Basketball Society Executive Director Sian Blyth to find out more about their organization that provides youth, club, provincial and national level wheelchair basketball programming throughout British Columbia.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
The British Columbia Wheelchair Basketball Society is a non-profit organization that provides youth, club, provincial and national level wheelchair basketball programming throughout the province. We are a fully integrated sport that allows and encourages everyone to play our sport. From being fully able to any person that has a disability, we try to provide the opportunity for all to fall in love with the sport of wheelchair basketball.
What problem does it aim to solve?
BCWBS works to provide an opportunity for all people in the province, both fully able-bodied and people with a disability, to have the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball.
When did you start/join it?
I started getting support and using BCWBS programming in 1994. From there I played for at the club/grassroots level, junior and senior provincial level, joined the BCWBS Board of Directors and eventually made the Canadian National team, representing my country at the Paralympic Games.
What made you want to get involved?
I had newly acquired a spinal cord injury and was looking for a sport to play. BCWBS provided the opportunity for me to play, but it also allowed me to get extra basketball wheelchairs so that I could play with my brothers, cousins and friends. This opportunity was instrumental in my transition back to a normal life after suffering my injury. Once I got older joining the Board of Directors was an easy decision for me as I wanted to help provide the same opportunities that I received to all.
What was the situation like when you started?
I grew up in northern BC near Fort St John, there were not any para-sports in the city at that time but with the help of BCWBS, I was able to start practices in Fort St John.
How has it changed since?
Access to para-sport is still a challenge in the north and some regions within the province. With programs run through BCWBS like Let’s Play that identifies young disabled children throughout the province and gets them sports chairs to use in their schools, access is becoming much easier.
What more needs to be done?
Continued development of supports systems and opportunities in all the regions throughout BC so that all young disabled children have access to sporting equipment and programming.
How can our readers help?
The biggest way they can help is by taking an interest and coming out to an event. Once someone comes out and sees the skill, speed and contact that is involved with wheelchair basketball they fall in love with our sport.
Do you have any events coming up?
We are hosting the women’s national tournament at the end of April 8-10, 2022 and our annual fundraiser Hoopfest will be held on May 18, 2022.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The services offered through the Rick Hansen Foundation are very beneficial. The research and support they provide towards spinal cord injury helps the committee a great deal.