What is Paralympian Search?

Paralympian Search is a one-day athlete identification and informational event designed to challenge participants in different agility and skill testing tasks so that they can learn about new Para sports  get connected to sport opportunities and maybe one day even represent Canada at the Paralympic Games.

The event also welcomes current or former athletes from all levels aiming to transfer into a new Paralympic sport or discover a new sport that can complement their main discipline.

Each participant goes through a set of basic physical challenges supervised by national team coaches and other experts. There is a chance to try out a few sport demonstrations. During this event, you will also get to meet current Paralympic athletes and alumni from various sports who will be sharing their experience and answering your questions.

Who can go to a Paralympian Search?

Participants of ages 14 and up who have a physical disability or visual impairment can come to a Paralympian Search. Athletes with an intellectual impairment are welcome to join, however it should be noted that on the Paralympic program, there are just three Paralympic sports with disciplines for athletes with intellectual impairment so sometimes options are a bit more limited. We are happy to provide as much information as we can for athletes with intellectual impairment. For more about Paralympic sports, see here.

How long is Paralympian Search?

The length of day depends on each location, but generally the day will run from about 9:00am until about 2:00pm, so plan for about 5 hours on site. Specific details will be provided for each Paralympian Search on this website.

Can you tell me about accessibility at Paralympian Search?

Accessibility will depend a bit for each event since we host in a different type of venue in every city. Generally, we seek to have:

  • All activities on one floor or provide an elevator if we must use two 
  • A modern facility with basics such as automatic doors, wide entry ways, ramps etc.
  • Accessible washrooms and changing rooms
  • A venue with accessible parking and accessible by public transportation
  • Guides and scribes on site to support registration, challenges, and getting around the space
  • Clear signage to help way finding
  • Support animals are welcome
  • Staff and volunteers who are knowledgeable, friendly, and familiar with working with para athletes

Due to differences in venues we cannot guarantee all of the above is available at every Paralympian Search, so please contact us ahead of time if you have a specific question and we’d be happy to discuss.

What happens during the day of the Paralympian Search?

Again it will depend a little on each location, but typically you will arrive in the morning and check in at the registration table, listen to a welcoming speech from local sport leaders and a Paralympian ambassador, then go through a warm up followed by some athletic challenges and sport demonstrations then conclude with a lunch with all the participants.

What are the challenges like?

The challenges are designed to indicate some basic physical and sport aptitudes. You will push hard to show your fitness, physical skills, power, agility, coordination, speed and endurance. Think obstacle courses or agility, accuracy, and strength exercises.

Do I try or play sports at a Paralympian Search?

The day is mostly focused on the challenges mentioned above, however there is a chance to try out a few sport demonstrations. The goal of the challenges is to find out about some of your general skills and aptitudes so that you can discover a range of sports that may be a good fit.

If I use a wheelchair, can I complete all the challenges?

If you use a manual wheelchair and propel yourself, you should be able to most of the challenges. For example, you can wheel through sprinting or obstacle course challenges. Participate as much as you can! If you use a power chair, there may need to be a bit more accommodation, so please contact us to discuss the possibilities.

If I have a visual impairment, or am blind, can I do all the challenges?

If you have a visual impairment or are blind, you should be able to do the tests. We will have volunteers on site to assist you to move through the stations and we will provide you a guide runner for the running or manoeuvring if needed. Please advise ahead of time if there is specific support that would help you.

What if get there and realize I am unable to do many, or any of the challenges?

If you are uncertain about trying the challenges, or if one of the local fitness experts recommends that you do not attempt a challenge, you will still have opportunities to learn about different sports and find out which ones might be a fit for you. You can still check out the sport demonstrations and enjoy lunch with all participants.

Are the challenges difficult - are there any risks?

As with any activity, there are risks, and the challenges can be physically demanding. We will ask you to complete a health questionnaire called the Get Active Questionnaire form to help consider if you are adequate physical health to participate. Use this reference document if you answered YES to any questions on the Get Active Questionnaire and have not consulted a healthcare provider or a Qualified Exercise Professional (QEP) about becoming more physically active.

A local fitness expert will be on site to answer any questions you may have. If there are any health concerns, you may be asked to only complete some challenges, or none at all. Your safety is our top priority! Additionally, you will be asked to sign a waiver releasing the hosts of liability.

Do I need to already be an athlete to come to Paralympian Search?

No, you can come to Paralympian Search if you are not already an athlete. If you are an athlete, we hope you will also find out about more sport options that may be of interest to you.

Can I bring my parents, spouse or a friend?

Yes! You are welcome to bring someone from your support network. They will be welcome to join for the opening remarks, but please be advised that they will not be permitted in the activity area during the challenges. In some cities, there may be a viewing area available but in some locations, they may need to wait in a separate space. When possible, the CPC will provide information sessions for friends and family while you are at the testing.

Can I bring my service animal to a Paralympian Search?

Yes! Please advise us ahead of time in your registration form so we can best support you.

What should I wear?

The tests are active and can be physically demanding, so wear appropriate sport clothing and shoes and be prepared to be active. There will be washrooms or changing rooms on site and it’s a good idea to bring a layer you can quickly slip on, such as a sweatshirt, to stay warm between or after challenges.

What should I bring?

If you have any equipment you use when you do physical activities such as bike, sprint or throw (such as gloves, a brace, tether, sport chair etc.) please bring them. You can bring a lock as there are usually lockers on site for your personal items.

There will be some snacks and water but if you have preferences or allergies, please indicate any allergies in your registration and bring your own food.

What if I am younger than 18 year old?

Paralympian Search welcomes participants ages 14 and up, but if you are under 18, or otherwise unable to sign consent, you must have a parent or legal guardian with you.

What happens after the Paralympian Search?

Everyone who attends will receive information on different Paralympic sports and local opportunities. If you show exceptionally high athletic potential, you may be invited to speak to a provincial or national sport representative about additional opportunities.

Does the Paralympian Search have any other purposes?

Yes! The CPC is working with a research team that is studying how para athletes get involved in sport. We would appreciate if you would fill out a questionnaire about your sport experience and answer some questions as you move through your day. Your participation will really help us better understand how people with disabilities get involved, and hopefully we can use this knowledge to provide better opportunities for quality participation.

What else should I know?

Sometimes there will be media present. Paralympian Search is a great event to promote Paralympic sport, so sometimes reporters or photographers will be there to circulate and ask questions. You are never required to speak to media or have your photo taken, and we will ask you to sign a media consent form which you are free to decline consent.

What if I still have questions?

If you still have questions, please feel free to email us at paralympiansearch@paralympic.ca