Making recreation and fitness inclusive and available to all was the take-away message of UWindsor’s third annual Accessibility Awareness Day, yesterday in the CAW Student Centre.
With “Accessible Recreation” as this year’s theme, participants had an opportunity to hear a personal message from dancer Luca (Lazylegz) Patuelli and take part in a dozen sessions on how to keep active and engaged.
Campus Recreation manager Sandra Ondracka gave a presentation on UWindsor’s commitment to inclusion and says that campus recreation programs are forever changing and adapting to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
“Our programs are completely integrated and we try to offer as much adaptation where possible. We’re still in the learning stages so we’re trying to learn as we go,” says Ondracka. “It really is a matter of communicating what is available to the students and getting them involved and making them feel comfortable in our facility.”
Josh Leeman, assistant intramural and aquatics coordinator, presented with Ondracka and says the key is to kindle more interest in recreation programs for people of all abilities.
“What we are trying to do is create an inclusive environment for everyone to participate whether they have limitations or not,” says Leeman. “We are reducing any barriers so all people can feel comfortable in any or all of our programming, from our summer youth program participants to UWindsor students, staff and faculty.”
Patuelli kicked off the event with an energetic keynote address that included leading the crowd in a seat dancing exercise and spinning on stage in a breakdance routine. The professional dancer, dance teacher and motivational speaker uses crutches because of a muscle condition called arthrogryposis, and drove home a message to the crowd of No Excuses, No Limits.
Patuelli says that once he discovered his passion for breakdancing there was no looking back.
“I believe if you have a passion, a dream, or a cause then you must find a way to go ahead and do it in your own way,” says Patuelli. “If you believe in yourself then others will follow suit and believe in you too.”
Leeman says he was inspired by Patuelli’s talk.
“It’s an extremely powerful message that we can take away into our everyday lives and hopefully it will encourage everyone to be more active and more involved,” says Leeman.