Today, Nikki, Megan and Judy are some of our most promising wheelchair tennis athletes. It's hard to believe that they were ever on the sidelines. But like many girls with disabilities, these talented athletes spent years shying away from wheelchair sports.
What changed? They met each other.
“Before I met Megan and Judy I’d never had a friend with a disability before. I can talk to them about stuff that I wouldn’t talk to other people about. I definitely feel that we have more of a bond because we all have disabilities.” - Nikki, Aged 11
BC Wheelchair Sports Association knows that girls with disabilities face unique barriers to getting active. That's why we launched our first ever Girls Only Wheelchair Tennis Program this year. Coached by Paralympian Sarah Hunter, this program provides a supportive environment for the girls to learn wheelchair tennis, make friends and get mentored by women with disabilities.
The idea of bringing girls in a similar situation together was amazing because a lightbulb went on in Nikki where she realized that she’s not the only one. There are all these other women playing wheelchair tennis. It’s opened her eyes to all the possibilities of what’s out there. - Nikki's mom Kim.
Today, the possibilities for the girls are endless. This summer, they attended a wheelchair tennis camp in California, where they met kids from across North America. Megan recently placed second in women’s doubles at the 2016 Birmingham Wheelchair Tennis National Championships. Judy and Nikki mentor younger junior athletes at their weekly wheelchair tennis lessons. Off the court, the girls have inspired each other to try other sports.
“They’ll say to each other ‘Are you going to that basketball or that sailing thing? If you’re going, maybe I’ll go,” says Nikki’s mom. “Nikki might not go by herself, but if she knows that Megan or Judy is going, that’s a little less intimidating.”
We know that girls with disabilities who are physically active have greater self-esteem, more self-confidence, more friends and a higher likelihood of going to university and getting a job. Unfortunately, research shows that by 14, only 1 in 10 girls get enough physical activity. That number is undoubtably much lower for girls with disabilities.
We need to get more girls with disabilities off the sidelines and into the game, and we need your help to do it.
With your donations, we can expand our Girls Only program and recruit more girls to wheelchair sports. We can provide them with mentorship, coaching and support. We can ensure that they have access to sports wheelchairs and equipment. And we can even introduce them to a friend who understands exactly what they're going through. This Christmas, will you help us ensure that no girl feels that she belongs on the sidelines?
Make your tax-deductible donation by clicking here.
Did you know?
- By age 14, only 1 in 10 girls will get enough physical activity. That number is likely even lower for girls with disabilities.
- Over 50% of girls say that they stopped participating in sport after a negative experience in school or on a sports team.
- Only 46% of women with disabilities get any regular exercise, versus 73% of able-bodied women.
- BUT 74% of girls say that they would like to be more physically active.