Accessibility programming encourages lifelong love of sport

Feb 16, 2015

PRINCE GEORGE – Persons with different abilities living in the North – and in communities throughout the province – will have increased opportunities to become lifelong participants in sport and creative activities as a result of $735,000 in funding for accessibility programming announced Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

The Government of British Columbia, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and viaSport have entered into a $335,000 Northern Sport Accessibility 2015 partnership ($290,000 to be provided by the Province) to help build more inclusive northern communities by developing a new program delivery model that has the potential to serve other regions.

A collaborative roundtable will bring together representatives of multiple sectors to develop a “made in the North” accessibility plan aimed at getting more northerners with different abilities involved in sport. The plan, to be implemented over three years by a dedicated sport accessibility coordinator housed at Pacific Sport Northern BC, will connect people with programs. The position will be further supported by an equipment grant program and technical resources.

As part of the initiative, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) will invest $45,000 to support long-term athlete development, from active start through learn-to-play stages. This funding will enhance existing service delivery while also providing new resources to communities that do not currently have access to sport development programming for persons with different abilities. The CPC will also provide in-kind contributions to train teachers and coaches in the Fundamental Movement Skills curriculum, as well as increasing awareness about how to get persons with different abilities involved in sport through the Changing Minds, Changing Lives initiative.

In addition, the Government of British Columbia will fund up to $400,000 annually to expand the After School Sport and Arts Initiative (ASSAI), providing after school sport and arts programming for children with a disability. The funding will be available to ASSAI communities to support transportation, additional staff, specialized equipment and staff training that will meet the specific needs of these children. 

Northern Sport Accessibility 2015 and the expansion of ASSAI both support Accessibility 2024, a 10-year plan and shared commitment between government, businesses and communities to make B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with different abilities.

Northern Sport Accessibility 2015


Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development –

“I am delighted that one of the many legacies of the 2015 Canada Winter Games will be increased opportunities for people with different abilities to participate in sport and creative activities. The Government of British Columbia is grateful to the many partners who have come together to support the expansion of the After School Sport and Arts Initiative and Northern Sport Accessibility 2015.”

Karen O’Neill, CEO, Canadian Paralympic Committee –

“This is a tremendous partnership opportunity for the Paralympic Committee to join the Province, viaSport and the B.C. sport partners to build a legacy from the Canada Games that will stimulate provincial engagement and alignment in parasport at every level. Together, we will continue to focus on initiatives to increase awareness, participation and leadership development opportunities in the North for individuals with a disability.” 

Cathy Priestner Allinger, CEO viaSport –

“viaSport means through sport, and we believe that ‘via’ sport, people of all abilities can challenge themselves to be the best they can be. This program will create more opportunities for individuals across B.C. to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits of participating in sport.”

Shirley Bond, Prince George-Valemount MLA –

“It is important that all British Columbians have the opportunity to participate in sport and creative activities. This investment will ensure that there are accessible options in the North and across the province and will serve as a very special legacy of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.”

Mike Morris, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA –

“By working together to develop a plan that will best serve our northern athletes, we will help provide our athletes with the chance to participate in sport. This accessibility plan will create a foundation that will increase opportunities for athletes living with disabilities.”

Gail Hamamoto, executive director, BC Wheelchair Sports Association and board director for Canadian Paralympic Committee –

 “As one of the provincial organizations providing services to participants and athletes with disabilities, we are excited about Northern Sport Accessibility 2015 and its potential to benefit people with disabilities in the North by increasing access to a wide range of healthy sport participation activities. Sport plays a vital role in the success of the province’s Accessibility 2024 plan and we hope this collaboration will serve as a model for other regions of the province.”

Quick Facts:

  • Funded as part of the $2-million investment by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, ASSAI supports after school sport, physical activity and arts programming in select school districts around B.C. 
  • ASSAI helps students develop skills that contribute to a healthy, well-rounded life through physical and creative activity. 
  • The expansion of the ASSAI program is building on the success of the Surrey disability after school sport programming pilot that began in 2012.
  • Currently, over 180 schools in 30 communities throughout the province are offering sport and arts programs through ASSAI.
  • These 30 ASSAI funded communities will now have access to this new funding through the Directorate of Agencies for School Health, which administers the program on behalf of the Province.
  • Canada was one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which guarantees human rights for an estimated 650 million individuals with disabilities around the world.
  • The Directorate of Agencies for School Health is a non-profit society committed to making a significant contribution toward positively influencing the health and learning capacity of students in B.C.
  • Phase One of Northern Sport Accessibility 2015 has been developed in partnership with disability sport organizations representing parasports at the 2015 Canada Winter Games: BC Adaptive Snowsports, BC Wheelchair Basketball Society, BC Wheelchair Sports Association and Cross Country BC.

Learn More:

After School Sport and Arts Initiative:

Accessibility 2024:

Directorate of Agencies for School Health:

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development 
250 888-1462