Winter Adaptive Games a ‘Marvel’ous day

PhysEd students host a day with superheroes and super kids at their 17th annual event

The theme for the Winter Adaptive Games was superheroes.
The theme for the Winter Adaptive Games was superheroes.

On Saturday, the upper lobby of the Physical Education Centre was transformed into a combination of New York City, Gotham City and Metropolis. But the superheroes who lived there spent the day not fighting crime, but having fun.

WAG to the Rescue! was the theme for this year’s Winter Adaptive Games (WAG) organized by the school of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

The event, held in the PEC, brought together about 70 Kingston-area children and teens with different intellectual and physical disabilities for a day of indoor and outdoor activity.

WAG co-chair Lauren McNicol, PhysEd ’08, said the day is a great opportunity for the kids to meet new people in a fun environment.

“The kids don’t get to interact with each other much otherwise.”

Bess Pauling, PhysEd ’07, also co-chaired the event.

The event is open to all school-age children, and activities are divided up between two age groups. Each child is paired with a student buddy within their group for the day.

All student buddies are physical education students.

The day began at 8:30 a.m. in Bartlett gym when I met the group I was going to spend the day with.

Each group was named after a different superhero. My group was the Sky Captains. Other teams included the Incredibles, The Fantastiques and Team Turbo.

The first participant I met was Paul, who has Down syndrome and some hearing impairment. Dressed in a bright red Incredibles t-shirt, he strode briskly over to where I was sitting, introduced himself and firmly shook my hand.

While most of the kids had never met their buddies before Saturday, Paul and his buddy Jessie Vance, PhysEd ’07, play basketball together on a Special Olympics team Vance helps coach.

There were six other kids in my group: Jessica, Andrew, Jennifer, Andrew, Spencer and Michael.

The opening ceremonies began with a rousing rendition of “Twist and Shout” by the Queen’s Bands followed by a performance by the Queen’s dance team.

For our first activity of the day, the Sky Captains went downstairs to the combatives room for a game of link tag.

After successfully evading capture once again, Paul came over to where I was sitting and gave me a big high five before running back to join the group.

After that, we headed to the lower dance studio for a lesson with several members of the dance team.

We did jumping jacks and clapped along to the theme song from Batman. Spencer and Jennifer danced in their wheelchairs, shouting out “Batman!” whenever it came on.

Once we had all mastered our steps, it was back upstairs to come up with a team cheer.

The two Andrews collaborated to come up with our slogan.

It began with the whole team striking a hero pose and shouting “It’s hero time!” followed by a call-and-answer of the letters S-K-Y and Captains.

After refueling with a snack of apple slices and Goldfish crackers, it was off to Jock Harty Arena for skating, broomball and sledge hockey.

I decided to try my hand at sledge hockey. I strapped myself into my sledge, and using cut off hockey sticks with picks on them to propel myself forward, I set off across the ice.

With a little help from Andrew and his buddy Keira Loukes, PhysEd ’07, I made it to the goal and even managed to put the puck in the net. Never mind that there was no goalie and I was at a stand-still.

After extricating myself from my sledge, I met a girl named Erin who was teaching her buddy how to do a waltz jump.

Erin is 18 and has been a Special Olympics figure skater for the last eight years. She told me she’s preparing for the upcoming provincial championships in Owen Sound.

After skating was lunch and entertainment, provided by several of the student buddies. We all satisfied our hunger with pizza, Timbits and juice while Andrew and Keira belted Shania Twain songs and Paul played a maraca made from a cream cheese container.

After lunch, there was a rotation of activities in the gym ranging from hoola hooping to doughnut eating, followed by tobogganing at Summerhill and a sleigh ride around campus. The last activity of the day was a dip in the pool before everyone headed back to the gym for closing ceremonies.

The co-chairs had prepared a slide show of the day’s events, and the parents were on hand to watch. Each participant was also given a photo of him or herself to take home.

The piece de resistance was the group’s performances of their Batman dance for an appreciative audience.

Loukes, who has been involved with the event since she was in first year, said people often look at kids with disabilities and feel sorry for them, thinking they live in a sad situation. But she said nothing could be farther from the truth.

“They do have incredible lives and do incredible things.”

She spent several years coaching Special Olympics basketball with a team whose players ranged in age from 12 years old to almost 40. She said she was touched by the enthusiasm and positive attitude of the players.

Events like WAG help kids with disabilities see that they’re just like everyone else, Loukes said.

“For them to come here and see they have so much in common and for us to see we have so much in common [with them], I think that’s the most important part.”

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