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Wheels get locals in motion

First time Squamish event raises awareness and fun

On Saturday morning (June 13) people of all ages walked and wheeled their way to Cleveland Avenue to participate in the Scotiabank Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion, held in Squamish this year for the first time.

Wheels in Motion is an annual event bringing attention to accessibility issues for people with spinal chord injury.

After an introduction from Mountain FM's Rob Michaels, Mayor Greg Gardner, and event organizers Sarah Tipler and Kristen McBride, a yoga instructor led the participants in a group stretch.

Tipler, who acts on the municipality's committee advising on accessibility issues, said through her advocacy, she's learned "the bureaucratic process can be very slow."

She said the Wheels in Motion event changes people's perception of what's achievable in the community, adding there are lots of misconceptions about disability.

"It's just participating in life setting goals like everybody else," said Tipler.

As a means of demonstrating a wide range of abilities, members of the B.C. Coast A and B rugby teams were in attendance to perform a wheelchair rugby demonstration.

Andrew Wigglesworth (aka DJ Druid) and Kary Richards (aka DJ Evolve) provided the music during the event, and Wigglesworth impressed spectators with elaborate card tricks.

Demonstrating the challenges that are overcome, Wheels in Motion games allowed all participants to try their skills maneuvering obstacle courses wheelchairs.

Mitten-clad racers -including Gardner and Michaels - rode wheelchairs through an elaborate racecourse simulating everyday activities for people with spinal chord injury.

Participants propelled themselves around four pylons to a table where they picked up a pen and wrote the word "wheels" on a piece of paper using only their mouths.

Afterward, they continued to a set of numbered cards, which had to be placed in order into an envelope. Racers then picked up a cup and poured a glass of water, placing it in their lap while continuing to another station without spilling any liquid.

The cup was placed carefully onto the next table before the racer continued over a carpet to a hockey net to shoot at least three to five balls into the net.

Gardner won the race, but admitted to Michaels "I spelled wheels wrong, I forgot an E."

"I'm the loser to the guy who wore a tie and he still beat me," laughed Michaels.

Gardner said the event was a great success and he was pleased with the turnout.

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