Report on Montreal’s Adapted Sports’ Conference

Report on Montreal’s Adapted Sports’ Conference
On November 11, Montréal held its very first Conference on Adapted Sports. I had the pleasure of speaking at this conference organised by “CIVA”, an organisation that specializes in integrating people with disabilities into every-day life. Aimed specifically at Health Care workers, I thought that I would share with you a brief summary of day.


First, there were numerous conferences. These allowed participants to leave with the necessary tools to make different activities accessible for their patients/clients: children with motor delays, patients with cerebral palsy, other neurological problems or physical restrictions. In the end, it was obvious that physical activity is beneficial for all, whatever the condition may be. Backed by scientific proof, physical activity must be pleasurable and enjoyable so that people can “just have fun”.


A panel was present to answer questions about adapted sports, where we have come from and where we are going. Members of this panel were Alison Levine, a Paralympian in the sport of Boccia, Maxime Gagnon of Défi sportif AlterGo, Claude Lefançois, president of Viomax (Non-profit club for persons with physical disabilities) and Pierre Séguin, assistant coach for Powerchair Football (Soccer), Québec.

It was agreed by all that a change in our way of thinking is taking place in Québec and beyond. There is, nevertheless, much work to be done. Having disabled people speak up has been a great force to initiate change. This will most certainly continue in the future when health care professionals take the stage to speak out on these issues. Social media along with the voices of amateur and professional athletes also play an important role in promoting adapted activities for the disabled. Paralympic games are more mainstream even in eyes of the general population as certain sports appear to have gained more prestige than others.

It was highlighted that those involved in rehabilitation centres, hospitals and other areas of health services must speak out as “Ambassadors” to promote adapted sports. Sometimes those with disabilities feel isolated within the system. For example, a double amputee who felt alone, as if he were the only one in the world. When he started to participate in adapted sports he regained a feeling of belongingness which broke his feeling of isolation. “Wow! There really are others like me!” Adapted sports can truly bring together peers, even more so than within the health care system. Also, professionals have a role to encourage positive lifestyle changes. What happens once rehabilitation has finished? Adapted sports is the perfect option, but we must know about each one of the organisations in order to share their mission.

The sports

On a more practical level, we were able to participate in several workshops, watch videos and hear explanations about the rules of different adapted sports available in Québec.

Health Care Professionals – Know about the availability of these incredible sports and talk about them with your patients.

Those looking to stay active – Here is a list of options that may be of interest to you, no matter how disabled you are.


This sport is similar to boules, but is played from a wheelchair. If you can’t use your arms, no problem! A ramp is used to aim the ball, a releasing device attached to the forehead, and a sport assistant who adjusts the ramp according to directions from the athlete. It’s not as easy as it looks. Precision and concentration are needed as well as strong athletic willpower. Time to practice…as for me, I didn’t even get close to the jack!

What does it look like?

Wheelchair Rugby:

It’s pretty much like traditional rugby – you have to get the ball into the end zone of the opposing team. To do so, you have to dribble the ball and pass it every 10 seconds. Contact is allowed. This version of the sport was originally created for quadriplegics.

What does it look like?

Powerchair soccer.

For persons in powerchairs it’s a fast-moving game. We didn’t have time to try it out last Saturday, but have a look at this video, it’s worth the time!


What does it look like?

Wheelchair basketball.

I must admit that this was not my favorite sport. It’s a little strange. I don’t like to play basketball standing up. However, the same rules apply, the same court. Two rotations of the wheels are permitted between each dribble.

What does it look like?

Powerchair soccer – Rugby – Boccia – Basketball:

Would you like to know more about it? Interested in participating? Check out the CIVA site (in French only) to learn more about these parasports and more, like La Crosse, bowling and yoga!


A new addition to the next winter Olympics, para-badminton can be played standing by athletes with limitations in their arms or legs, or from a wheelchair. There is even para-badminton for little people. All of the same rules apply, and it is played on a traditional badminton court. Modifications are made according to physical disabilities and whether you are playing singles or doubles!

What does it look like?

Do you want to try para-badminton? Check it out at Badminton Québec (French only), in Montréal. You can also contact Technical Director, Christian Guibourt, at 514-252-3066 for more information about availability in your area.


Same rules, same court. 2 bounce rule applies! Always played in a wheelchair, even for those with limited arm function – a racket is fastened to your hand. The challenge is to move in the wheelchair with the same hand that is holding the racket…but this is quickly learned!

What does it look like?

Para-Cross-Country Skiing

This was my second favorite. We didn’t the chance to try this on skis at the November 11 workshop. The frame used to position yourself is fastened to a set of skis, or to a board on wheels.  Summer practice can be done on a cycling path. This is an excellent workout for the arms and the abdominal muscles. Since the wheels only move in one direction, you have to do a push-up to lift the front of the frame allowing you to pivot and change directions. I really enjoyed this.

What does it look like in winter?

For more information, visit the Para-Nordique section of the Québec Cross-Country skiing site.


From tricycles for those with balance problems, to tandem riding with a “pilot” for those who have visual disabilities! Watch the video below. There is even a person who can pedal with a single leg. Hand cycles are also an option. In a competition, these cycles are super aerodynamic, and the rider is almost laying on their back. I wonder how they can see what is happening in front of them. Out of my way!

What does it look like?

Want to know more? Check out the para-cycling section at You can also contact trainer Guillaume Plourde in Bromont at 819-342-6092.

Sledge Hockey

Last but not least is sledge hockey. This is most likely the sport that requires the best level of fitness: core balance and good arm strength. Sledge hockey is aimed at paraplegics and amputees. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, you can compete or just play for fun! Let the games begin!

What does it look like? (The following video shows advanced play).

There are sledge hockey clubs in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Eastern Townships, Laval, Montréal, Québec Region, in the Richelieu (on Montréal’s South Shore) and in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region.

For more information consult the website at:

A fun-filled day.

You may be aware that when you go to a Conference, often what is said in between the sessions among the participants is just as interesting as what is said at the workshops themselves. Claude Lefrançois was telling me about a quadriplegic man who did adapted sailing. He controls his boat alone. I have never seen this guy, but he is not alone. Here is an interesting video. This is the last example of adapted sport that I will discuss today, but there are so many others. I hope that you now have the desire to learn more, and to search for physical activities that best suit you.