Wheelchair basketball game opens eyes to accessibility issues

 

 

Trajan Petkovic of Amherstburg (right) goes after a loose ball during a wheelchair basketball game last Friday afternoon at Western Secondary School. The game between students and teacher and representatives of Essex County was played as part of Access Awareness Week.

Trajan Petkovic of Amherstburg (right) goes after a loose ball during a wheelchair basketball game last Friday afternoon at Western Secondary School.
The game between students and teacher and representatives of Essex County was played as part of Access Awareness Week.

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland passes the ball to one of his County of Essex teammates during Friday afternoon's wheelchair basketball game at Western Secondary School. Sutherland was one of four county politicians playing in the game, with the others being  Warden Tom Bain, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya.

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland passes the ball to one of his County of Essex teammates during Friday afternoon’s wheelchair basketball game at Western Secondary School. Sutherland was one of four county politicians playing in the game, with the others being Warden Tom Bain, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya.

By Ron Giofu

 

Students and teachers from Western Secondary School faced off with members of the County of Essex, including county councillors, in a wheelchair basketball game with the aim of opening eyes to accessibility.

The game was played as part of Access Awareness Week with 17 county officials taking on a team of Western students and players comprised mainly of students picked from the crowd. John Boyko, a member of the Essex County accessibility awareness committee, said the game was a fun way to open people’s eyes about accessibility not only in the school but also in the world as a whole.

“We decided this is one way we can promote accessibility in our community,” said Boyko.

Events like the wheelchair basketball game help get the message about accessibility out into the public but Boyko cautioned that the fight is far from over. The message is getting out there and things are starting to change but he acknowledged “it takes a long time” and that there are still a lot of attitudinal barriers to overcome. Some physical barriers are coming down, but Boyko said he couldn’t understand why some businesses don’t do more to promote accessibility, particularly larger businesses.

“I only shop at businesses I can get into,” said Boyko, who uses a wheelchair.

Boyko was happy to see the amount of support from the County of Essex, including the elected officials that turned out. Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland, Warden Tom Bain, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya played for the county team.

“Having council members come out is really important because they are the decision makers,” said Boyko.

Sutherland said it was an enjoyable way to promote a worthy cause.

“This is just a great experience,” said Sutherland. “We have a lot of fun and it certainly helps promote Access Awareness Week. The representation from county council is tremendous.”

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