Paralympic Sport Development Fund enhances Para athletics program at Steadward Centre

Canadian Paralympic Committee

February 28, 2019

The grant helped fund the purchase of three racing wheelchairs along with various equipment and maintenance kits.


(photo Steadward Centre Facebook)

EDMONTON – Para athletics is generally considered a series of individual sports, but at The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement in Edmonton, a team atmosphere percolates through the facility which is attracting more and more members.

‘’The Steadward Centre gives our Para athletes a place where they can all come together and train,’’ said Maegan Ciesielski, a Para athletics coach at The Centre. ‘’Previously there wasn’t a specific track and field program in Edmonton. So you would have to go to a regular track club, be accommodated, find your own equipment and train on your own.’’

An expert in adapted physical activity and Para sport development, The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement works with more than 1,000 children and adults with disabilities and trains more than 250 students every year. 

It was founded in 1978 by Dr. Robert Steadward, the first president of the International Paralympic Committee and a pioneer in the advancement of Para sport in Canada and globally. In 2016, The Steadward Centre opened a brand new facility, extending space from 4,000 to 17,000 square feet for adapted physical activity and Para sport programs.

In 2018, the facility received a $15,000 grant from the Paralympic Sport Development Fund (PSDF). The grant helped fund the purchase of three racing wheelchairs along with various equipment and maintenance kits. The money was also invested in training camps.

‘’Having these chairs helps us meet our demand, especially that we were able to purchase chairs that are more accommodating,’’ said Ciesielski.  ‘’The ones we had access to were more geared towards a specific type of build.’’

Ciesielski adds that the frames of the chairs can last 30 years or more and be used and shared by dozens of people over the first 10-year period. Of course, tune-ups to the equipment are always required. That’s why some of the PSDF funds were put towards training rollers, replacement tires and wheels, tire pumps and so on.

Each individual chair can cost as much as $6,000.

‘’In general, Para sport is more expensive because there’s less people doing it,’’ she said. ‘’You need specialized equipment, you might have to travel farther for meets, and it’s harder to train indoors for certain events.’’
Training camps were held over separate weekends at The Centre. Those camps also incorporated guest coaches focusing on nutrition, psychology and strength conditioning.

‘’Para sport programs like ours are an opportunity to get an appreciation for physical activity, learn the value of commitment and hard work,’’ said Ciesielski.  ‘’All those things anyone can learn from sport but there are just fewer opportunities in Para sport.

‘’That’s why we’re here.’’ 

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields