Trevor Hirschfield on accessibility to play as a new father

"Play is an important building block for all children, removing those barriers can change someone’s life"

Trevor Hirschfield, co-captain of Canada’s national wheelchair rugby team, experienced one of life’s biggest off-court moments last year – having his first child. 

Sport has been a huge part of Hirschfield’s life. The 35-year-old, who uses a wheelchair in his daily life, is a three-time Paralympian and two-time Paralympic medallist and is still at the top of his game. As a new father, he’ll want his young son to also have access to participate in sport and physical activities. 

And at the same time, he’ll want to make sure he can join his son at play time, whether it’s at the playground, the beach, or the gym. 

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, a partner of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, is currently celebrating Jumpstart Month to promote access to play for all children and removing barriers kids can face when it comes to sport participation, whether it be financial or physical accessibility. 

To highlight Jumpstart Month, here are a few of Hirschfield’s thoughts on accessibility: 

What does accessibility mean to you? 

Accessibility means that I am able to take my son to the local park and have the ability to follow him around and access the different playground equipment.

What does access to play for all mean to you?

Access to play for all to me means that no matter your ability you have the opportunity to take part in barrier-free activities, whether it be swimming at your local pool or on a swing at your local playground.

What barriers have you faced before? 

I find there can be barriers when trying to get out and access natural settings, getting in the ocean from the beach or going for hikes on popular trails. 

What is an easy way to make something accessible that people may not think about? 

Looking it up on Google is a great place to start when trying to make somewhere accessible. Chances are someone or somewhere has already had a great idea, no need to reinvent the wheel. For example, beach mats are a great way to allow for access to the ocean and beach for anyone who has trouble moving in sand.

What would be your message to people about making play accessible? 

Play is an important building block for all children, removing those barriers can change someone’s life.