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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Getting accessible

By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com

Darren Lillington (centre) tosses the ball up as Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs (left) faces off against Carl Levesque on May 9, 2012.
Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com
Darren Lillington (centre) tosses the ball up as Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs (left) faces off against Carl Levesque on May 9, 2012.

Curler Carl Levesque has decided move from the ice rink to the basketball court.
Levesque, who skipped for the Thunder Bay team at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship, admitted he hasn’t played basketball since high school but when he heard about the fundraising efforts to make the former Hillcrest High School – now the Thunder Bay Centre for Change – accessible to everyone, he decided to give it another shot.

“It’s time to try something new,” Levesque said.

“There are other things I wanted to try out but we’ll start out with this. Right now we got curling and there’s a lot of sports that I wasn’t aware of but now I know there’s sledge hockey, skiing and hopefully there will be a lot more.”

There are many places in the city that aren’t accessible to wheelchair users so this fundraising event is a good way to make every building available to everyone, he said.

“Barrier free is nice,” he said. “Just wheel in like a normal person and have some fun.”

Centre for Change General Manager Sandi Boucher said they have partnered with the Canadian Paraplegic Association to put on the event. Money raised will toward the CPA Last Resort fund and the construction of the fully accessible workshop room, she said.

The long-term goal is to make the entire centre accessible with chairlifts and an elevator.

Boucher said the former high school has lived up to its nickname of the “Stairmaster” but even though it’s good for her and her staff to keep in shape, she didn’t want those stairs to be restrictive for other people.

“We have seven different levels and there’s stairs everywhere and (the centre) can’t stay that way,”
Boucher said. “We have way too many citizens that have yet to discover the centre. We’re in the process of putting in an accessible workshop to support all of our businesses and chairlifts in key locations so we can definitely increase accessibility.”

Cost of putting in these additions is partially coming out the centre’ budget and through the fundraising efforts, she said.

Boucher added they are looking for businesses to put in a team for the event as well as corporate sponsors.

The event will be held on June 9 at the Sports Dome. Teams have to consist of five members and a have a minimum of $200 in pledges per team to participate.

Anyone who wishes for more information can call Darren Lillington at 344-3743 at the Canadian Paraplegic Association office.

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