Since the beginning, women have been active participants in wheelchair sports. In fact, some of BC's most celebrated Paralympians have been women: Marni Abbott-Peter, Diane Rakiecki, Yuka Chokyu, Michelle Stilwell....the list goes on and on. Today's junior female athletes have a great many role models to choose from.
Unlike able-bodied sports, female wheelchair athletes routinely train and compete alongside men and this has pushed them to become stronger, faster and better athletes. Some wheelchair basketball leagues are co-ed and wheelchair rugby is a co-ed sport. As the Paralympic movement grows, however, sport opportunities for women with disabilities are increasing. This year, for example, Canada will host the first-ever women's world wheelchair basketball championships for women under 25.
As we've seen, women have also played a prominent role on the administrative side of BC Wheelchair Sports. Kathy Newman and Laurel Crosby have worked passionately in the wheelchair sports community for 30 years. Gail Hamamoto has also made a significant contribution to the wheelchair sports community both with her work at BCWSA and with her positions with the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association. Today, BCWSA has four female staff members (Kathy Newman, Gail Hamamoto, Holly Tawse and Arley McNeney) and only one lone man (Kevin Bowie).
Whether they're volunteering, building, competing or leading, women have played a significant role in BCWSA's history. Here is a slideshow of BCWSA women in sport.