HALIFAX – For Caden Flynn and Ryan Shay, the last Paralympian Search in Halifax in 2016 opened doors for them to expand their love of sports and bring that passion to more and more people with a disability in their communities.
Shay was already an established athlete in 2015. After a car accident left him living with quadriplegia in 2013, he made a successful return to Para athletics in sprint wheelchair racing and also was a member of Team Nova Scotia in wheelchair basketball at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
While Paralympian Search allowed him to test his skills in other sports, Shay discovered there was a need for more opportunities for people with a disability to get involved in sport.
‘’The Paralympian Search I attended was a great experience,’’ said Shay. ‘’It was wonderful to meet new people that were interested in Para sport and to see what else was out there in terms of sports.’’
Inspired by Paralympian Search, Shay launched a week-long camp for people with a disability to get involved in sport in 2017 and hopes to do it again this summer. His idea received an enthusiastic response from Sport Nova Scotia which also runs sessions for people with a disability.
‘’There’s still a lack of information for people with a disability and parents of kids with a disability regarding Para sport,’’ said Shay. ‘’Parents fear their kids could get hurt playing sports and we really need to communicate the benefits of being involved in sport.’’
One of the athletes to emerge from both the 2016 Paralympian Search and Shay’s camp two years later was Caden Flynn. The 18-year-old Flynn, born with cerebral palsy, has excelled in Para canoe and Para ice hockey.
While he would one day like to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games, Flynn is enjoying being active and the recreational aspect of sports participation. He is headed to university this fall to study political science, a first step on route to a law degree.
‘’When I attended the Paralympian Search in 2016 I was just getting into Para hockey,’’ said Flynn. ‘’It was fun to see the results from the tests and I was recommended for wheelchair racing. I went initially to try out different sports.’’
Flynn says he also benefitted from Shay’s camp.
‘’Sport has meant a lot to my life. It has boosted my confidence.’’
Paralympian Search returns to Halifax on May 25 at the Canada Games Centre. For more information or to register, visit Paralympic.ca/paralympiansearch.