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Accessible disc golf challenge 'Playing in My Shoes' fosters empathy with various ability game play

Accessible disc golf event

Sarah Crookall

Playing in My Shoes disc golf challenge is fostering empathy by encouraging various ability styles of game play, kicking off Accessibility Week.

On Sunday, the 'Playing in My Shoes' accessible disc golf event got underway off at 29 different courses in B.C., with the main event held at the fully-accessible Pine park in Keremeos.

“It’s to understand someone's perspective and to transmit that to course design for disc Golf, for sports access to all sports,” said Dion Eden, founder of Playing in My Shoes. “So, if we can, from this event, make someone design a sports complex or some amenity more accessible for someone that's what we're trying to get out of this.”

Players from across the South Okanagan tried four accessible playing styles: wheelchair throw, wrong arm throw, blindfold throw, and earplug throw.

The event, hosted by All-Accessible Disc Golf, fosters empathy by encouraging participants to think about and discuss how playing in a different way is. Players at the event commented on how difficult it was to play blindfolded or from a seated position.

“This course here is flat and as you can see behind me and the tee box is level to the ground. So, that allows there's no trip hazards — no barrier for someone in a wheelchair. And the grass is kept short, and the baskets are all standard level.”

Eden founded All-Accessible Disc Golf after a car crash injury saw him relearn the game he played for over a decade.

Now, 29 courses throughout the province have an accessibility rating thanks to his efforts. Each course has one of three levels of accessibility: wheelchair, limited mobility, and not easily accessible. Eden says that makes B.C. the accessible disc golf capital in Canada.

Eden continues to work with municipalities and sports organizations advocating for inclusion and providing recommendations on how to make disc golf courses more accessible.

A representative with the Village of Keremeos attended the disc golf event, encouraging residents to provide feedback for the Village’s accessibility plan. Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell also attended the event, alongside councillors, testing out their disc-throwing skills.

Some advice for novices?

“Find one throw you like because there's backhands, there’s flicks, a bunch of ones — find one throw and stick with that until you learn it,” said Eden. “And then progress because it could get confusing. It gets really hard when you throw too many throws.“

For those interested in joining disc golf, Eden recommended visiting your local disc golf club. The clubs are very inclusive and accessible, he said.

“If somebody sees this event and they can help their friend get into their house better — say the path to their driveway, or the path into their house, is all rough— if they can make that more accessible, that's the goal of this event. It's not just about sports.”

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