WAG blasts off, brings smiles to many faces

Eighteenth annual Winter Adapted Games ‘all about the kids,’ co-chair says

More than 50 children and 80 student volunteers participated in the WAG, which included tobogganing on Summerhill.
More than 50 children and 80 student volunteers participated in the WAG, which included tobogganing on Summerhill.
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Seven-year-old Logan Stewart was a no-nonsense teacher Saturday afternoon.

“Please do the math problems on the board,” he said to a Journal reporter asking for an interview during math class in a classroom he built out of mats and benches with his buddy Peter Vooys, Kin ’07.

Logan is seven years old and has cerebral palsy. He gets around using a wheelchair.

This was Logan’s third year at the Winter Adapted Games.

“I’m glad that I’m still a kid, so I can go to this thing,” he said. “My Dad has to work.”

He added that he keeps coming back because it’s so much fun, and he built the classroom because he wants to be a teacher when he grows up, and to give “some of the people who don’t want to play sports” something to do.

Bright, shiny clothing and antennas of many colours were part of an out-of-this-world experience for kids of all ages Saturday at the PEC.

“Blast off to Outer Space” was the theme for the 18th-annual Winter Adapted Games, an event designed to promote inclusion for children with physical and intellectual disabilities. This year’s event featured more than 50 children from as far away as Almonte and Perth, and was facilitated by more than 80 volunteers from the Kinesiology Department.

The day started with the opening ceremonies in Bartlett Gym, and featured activities such as swimming and dance, and low-organized games such as scooter hockey and dodge ball.

After a pizza lunch, the afternoon featured tobogganing at Summerhill and a sleigh ride around campus before the closing ceremonies at Ross Gym, or “Planet Xeon.”

Co-chair Janelle Mitchell, Kin ’08, said the 16-member committee started planning the event in September for one reason.

“It’s all about the kids,” she said. “Seeing what their reaction is to all the work we put in is basically why we all do it. There’s no other reason why we do it.”

Lauren McNicol, PhysEd ’08, also co-chaired the event. It was her second year as co-chair.

Every participant in WAG was assigned a PhysEd student buddy who ensured they enjoyed themselves all day.

Mitchell said having a one-to-one ratio is extremely important.

“One of our main reasons we’re doing winter adapted games is to promote inclusion, which is physical activity with people of all abilities and people with physical and intellectual abilities. That’s one of the main things, and we’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from PhysEd.”

The day also encourages creativity from those who can’t participate in hours of physical activity.

Erika Knights, Kin ’08, has been a buddy for three years. She said it’s the joy on the kids’ faces that keeps her coming back.

“It’s really rewarding. These kids might not be able to do that every day, or in their gym class they might get left out. This is a day when they can really participate and really have fun.”

Nicole Fairman has been participating in WAG for five years. At 21 years old, she said she returns for the outdoor activities.

“I like the tobogganing. I also like the sleigh ride…it’s awesome. Oh, and the dancing. We danced to the tune of Space Jam.”

Fairman said the best part of all is the bond she’s formed with her buddy, Kim Gardiner, ArtSci ’09.

“I think I’ve found a perfect match.”

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