Louis Gaudry

From The Sidelines To A Healthy Life

As a person with a physical disability, I understand how hard it is to be accepted when it comes to inclusion in sports and recreation in the community. That's why the message of inclusion promoted by the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability is so very important to me. Growing up and attending school was very hard when it came to participating in any activities. Whether it was just playing in the schoolyard or participating in the gymnasium, adults were hesitant of me getting involved, for fear I would get hurt.

Besides the adults having issues accepting me as a participant in physical activities, what kind of message were they sending to the students? Well the message they were sending was telling them that I was unable to do the things they did. So some of the questions I would hear from students would be, How can you hold a baseball bat? How can you throw a ball? You can do none of these things.

I remember when I was small and in school, and we were about to play baseball. The teacher would break us up into teams, and yes I would be the one left unchosen. Then I would hear the same old line. The teacher would say, sit on the bench and you will get your chance. I knew right there and then that I would not be leaving the bench.

So am I able to swing a bat? Am I able to throw a ball? Yes I am. I may do these things differently than others but I'm just as capable.

Besides my personal experiences, there is one more reason why active living is so important to me. Often I see school students with a physical disability on the sidelines not being able to participate in sports. It is very important for me to be able to be a voice for people that wish to participate in daily active living activities in our community. This involvement is the first step in being able to integrate into one's community and to live a healthy life.