CALGARY – Jaye Milley still can’t get over the fact that only three percent of Canadians with a disability are involved in sport. The 23-year-old para-cyclist, born with all four limbs underdeveloped and considered a quadruple amputee, has never known life without sport.
“That three percent number is astonishing,” he said. “It blows me away. I’m always trying to get people engaged. It’s all about keeping the body active. There are opportunities out there to participate and compete and people with a disability need to know about this.”
The Calgary native agrees that campaigns like the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s “From Playground to Podium” fundraiser and Pfizer’s Changing Minds, Changing Lives program will increase participation.
From Playground to Podium was launched on Dec. 2 and runs until Dec. 31, 2014. Funds raised will help more Canadians of all abilities get active in sports as it aims to create opportunities, provide leadership and inspire excellence.
Pfizer Canada’s Changing Minds, Changing Lives (CMCL) program educates healthcare professionals and students, as well as community groups and others in a position to influence persons with a disability, on the benefits of sport and how to help their clients get involved. Since it was launched in 2005, the CPC has delivered CMCL seminars to over 3,000 healthcare professionals across Canada.
“The attitudes towards Paralympic sport have definitely changed over the last few years,” said Milley. “It’s been really exciting for me to be part of this growing movement.”
Milley, who raced in four events at both the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan Am Games and London 2012 Paralympic Games, credits his family for instilling an active lifestyle in their household.
“I was brought up in the most positive of families,” said Milley. “They made sure that my brother, sister and I always had at least one extra-curricular activity when we were kids. I preferred sports to the arts. I believed there was nothing I couldn’t do and I wound up trying every sport under the sun.”
Thanks in large part to his early sporting opportunities – which he hopes more Canadians will enjoy, through funds raised by From Playground to Podium – Milley has the health, strength and confidence to pursue his goals which include competing at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto and the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.