03/12/22

5 (+1) Unusual But Awesome Wheelchair Sports To Inspire You - IDPD22

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was established in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The day is celebrated every year on December 3rd to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

The theme of the 2022 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is "Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world".

In particular, sport plays a key role as a good practice example and a site of innovation, employment and equity.Β 

Sport is an area where disability and inclusion are addressed at multiple levels. It is a sector where both the cause and the effect of inclusivity have been studied and researched.Β 

In the case of wheelchair sports, we usually think about wheelchair basketball, football, athletics and swimming. These are the most popular ones, but there are also a lot of other interesting sports which can be practised by wheelchair users.Β 

In this article, we talk about five different sports, plus a bonus one.

We hope one of these sports will inspire you and help to stay healthy and happy!

The gym might seem the most mundane, but perhaps not everyone knows that you can do many different activities in the gym. Fencing and several disciplines allow you to become more confident with your body, even if you are in a wheelchair. Among these we suggest 2 in particular that are practised by our brand ambassadors:

1 - Para Powerlifting

Known in the popular vernacular as 'weightlifting', it is a competitive sport in which each athlete is engaged in lifting the maximum possible weight in three exercises: the squat, the flat bench press, and the deadlift. For the case of Para Powerlifting, our ambassador Roberta Macrì, who has been practising this discipline for several years, explains. Also, we asked her why she chose it and how she got into this sport. Finally, she also gives a tip for those who would like to start doing this type of activity.

"I always enjoyed going to the gym even after the accident, even though I was dancing. I had heard about para-powerlifting but didn't know how to participate in a competition as I didn't know anyone in the industry. Then one day, by chance, I was contacted on social media by the sports director of FIPE, the federation that deals precisely with para-powerlifting. After seeing videos of me training on social media, he suggested I start practising this sport. And from there began my journey with para-powerlifting, thanks to which I won all the competitions I participated. Over time, we have become a great team but also a great family. It is an individual sport comprising three exercises where you do the barbell lifts lying on a bench wider than you would normally find in a gym. The lift must be 'clean', meaning there must be no tremors, the chest stop must be done, and the arms' extension must be perfect. I recommend this sport because it has allowed me to get to know and compare myself with many people with disabilities different from my own. Still, above all, it has improved my daily life, since the training increases my muscles and strength, so there is less fatigue in moving around and in other daily activities."

2 - Calisthenics

This discipline does not involve machines, but exercises are done with one's own body weight as resistance to training and developing the physique. In the case of a person in a wheelchair, the use of the arms becomes crucial, but not only, but balance is also an essential component in performing the exercises.

Alex Innocenti has undoubtedly found many benefits in callisthenics, especially for his preparation for motorbike races.

This is just the next unusual sport we suggest on this list!

3. Motorcycling

A passion that involves millions of people is also very often the cause of accidents that lead to disability. Despite this, this passion remains, and although one might think it impossible to get back in the saddle after a disabling accident, our ambassador Alex Innocenti has proved otherwise.

In this extended interview, he told us how meeting Luca Scassa changed his life and allowed him to get back on the bike. Moreover, he proposes routes for new people who, like him, still have the fire inside for motorbikes to try the experience.

4. Sailing

If there is one environment in which we are all equally accessible, it is surely the water.

In fact, swimming is one of the most popular sports for people with disabilities, thanks to its ease of learning (sometimes it is not even necessary) and its enormous benefits on both a physical and psycho-social level.

But in this case, we want to talk to you about another sport: rowing.

We asked our friend Andrea 'Capo' Quarta about his experience and how new people can approach it:

"I approached Paralympic sailing thanks to a trial I did last May at the port of Jesolo with the "Liberi Nel Vento" association. As an athlete of the Defence Paralympic Sports Group, I agreed to the group's proposal to participate in stages with FIV (Italian Sailing Federation) instructors. From there, it was pure passion. Whether it's sailing or any other sport, I recommend always trying; not to be afraid of things you don't know, but to let yourself be carried away by the positive emotions you can feel. I recommend it as a positive approach not only for sport but also for life."

5. Skydiving

Andrea Pacini is to date the only paraplegic skydiver working in Italy, and working at Aereogravity's Galleria del Vento in Milan, he has created the 'Disability Project', a space for inclusion at the Galleria del Vento that allows 'A new way of looking at inclusion, a new way of communicating disability'. With this project, Aero Gravity promotes and encourages the experience of indoor flight and does so through different solutions designed to meet the most varied needs.

"My first flight was in 2007 when I was a volunteer in the Italian Army's Folgore Parachute Brigade and it was love at first sight. After the accident, over a period of several years, I managed to make about 10 tandem jumps for my own enjoyment. Then, in 2016, thanks to Obiettivo Volare, I started on the path to becoming an independent, professional skydiver.

I started indoor training in a wind tunnel in Spain and took a skydiving course in Reggio Emilia in 2017.

For those who want to approach this sport I recommend starting out very calmly, it is a beautiful sport but it must be given the right amount of time and effort, both physical and economic. As a first approach, I recommend indoor activity, to understand if the world of flying is an activity compatible with one's body and if the sensations it transmits are appreciated, which is not always a given. Once you have completed the indoor wind tunnel course, if your passion and enthusiasm persist, then it is time to build a programme that is ideally suited to the person's characteristics in order to become a skydiver in maximum safety".

5+1. Paraclimbing

Like most Paralympic sports, Paraclimbing also has different categories depending on the disability.Β 

Of these, the one that differs the most from classic climbing for able-bodied athletes is definitely the sitting category, which is aimed at paraplegic athletes.

This is because, not being able to use their legs even for the slightest support, all the action is carried out using their arms and in this there is a different management of force.

It is a discipline that requires a lot of preparation, both from a physical and technical point of view, but once you reach the heights, called 'top' by the athletes, the satisfaction is priceless.

We hope this article has given you inspiration to try a new sport!

If you know of any particular sport that has not been included in this list, write to us on social media or via the button below!

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