Students at John Rennie Highschool had a different kind of gym class on Wednesday afternoon, one that exercised not only their bodies but also their empathy.
Saad Al-Adhamy, 15, took part. He is a big basketball fan.
Al-Adhamy has been playing for about seven years in a wheelchair and for the first time, his classmates are joining him and playing on wheels too.
“I think it’s going to be a pivoting moment in their lives,” Al-Adhamy said.
Al-Adhamy says he hopes they understand the challenges of living with a disability like he does and is looking forward to having the upper hand on the court.
“I’ll definitely school them,” he said with a smile. “Maybe once or twice but I don’t want to get too up in their face.”
Students not only tried their hand at basketball, but they also experienced sitting volleyball.
The activity was organized by John Rennie Highschool in partnership with Parasports Québec.
Through their Beyond Limits program, teens get to discover parasports.
“The main mission is to help sensitize the population, children so it can bring down the barriers to new athletes with disabilities to integrate sports,” said William Couturier, a co-ordinator with Parasports.
Couturier says students who may be driven to become future doctors, teachers or engineers will help build a more inclusive world.
“When they build a gym, they will know that some people need a wheelchair to pass so they build ramps. That little difference can make a big impact for people who live with disabilities,” Couturier explained.
That’s exactly what Tyler Szeremeta, 15, learned today.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and it really put things into perspective of how Saad has to deal with certain things,” Szeremeta said.
Szeremeta says he has a newfound respect for his classmate.
The teen hopes they get to do this more often.
That’s what Al-Adhamy wants too and maybe one day, he will even have his friends cheer for him when he makes it into the Paralympics.
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