BC Blind Sports November 2023 Newsletter

1. BC Blind Sports New Walking Program
2. Volunteer Call Out – Gift Wrapping Services Tsawwassen Mills Mall
3. 2023 Parapan Am Games
     Interview with BC blind judoka, Christina Mowatt
4. In-Person Program Updates
5. Online Program Updates
6. Dragon Boat Season Wrap-Up
7. Hockey
8. Remembrance Day
9. Contact Us

1. BC Blind Sports New Walking Program

Are you interested in getting outside, getting your steps in, and getting to make new connections? We have recently started a walking club that is open to all members! The walking club meets every Monday at 10:30am in South Burnaby (exact location will be provided upon registration).
We are also looking for volunteers to be walking guides for our participants. Duties will include, but not be limited to:
– Meeting participants inside of the sky train station
– Guiding participants with appropriate technique learned through sport guide training
– Listening to the participants needs
Volunteers will need to:
– Complete the sport guide training
– Be capable of walking continuously for an hour
– Be committed to having a good, positive attitude, and an understanding that they are there to be of assistance to the participants
– Become a member of BC Blind Sports, if they are not already
– Go through the screening process, which would include a vulnerable sector criminal record check
If you would like more information about this program or would like to start your own walking group in your area, please contact Lachlan at lachlan@bcblindsports.bc.ca or call us at 604-325-8638 or toll free at 1-877-604-8638.

2. Volunteer Call Out – Gift Wrapping Services Tsawwassen Mills Mall

BC Blind Sports is looking for enthusiastic volunteers that like wrapping presents or organizing things. We once again have the opportunity to raise funds for our programs and would like to have you join us to help operate the booth at Tsawwassen Mills Mall.
Dates: November 24th to December 24th, 2023
Where: Tsawwassen Mills Mall at 5000 Canoe Pass Way, Tsawwassen
Volunteers will be responsible for customer service, wrapping presents, keeping track of the number of presents wrapped and taking in donations. We need 2 to 3 volunteers for each shift. The shifts will be 4 hours each, please see below for shift times.
Mondays to Saturdays:
9:00 am to 1:00 pm
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
11:00 am to 3:00 pm
3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
If you, someone you know, or if you have a group of people who would be interested, please contact Tami by email at giftwrap@bcblindsports.bc.ca or by phone at 604-321-1638. We will then provide you with additional information on training sessions and shifts.

3. 2023 Parapan Am Games

The Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games will take place November 17-26, 2023 in Santiago, Chile. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 140 athletes.


BC Blind Sports is sending our congratulations and best wishes to Doug Ripley, Maryam Salehizadeh, and Ahmad Zeividavi of Vancouver, BC and the entire Canadian Goalball team who are headed to the 2023 Parapan Am Games with the Canadian Goalball team in Santiago, Chile this month!
A sport for the blind that has no able body equivalent, goalball was created after the second World War to help rehabilitate injured war veterans.
The sport combines the team aspects and formations of volleyball, the potential physical contact of boxing, high-speed back-and-forth action of tennis, and the high-speed reactions of a hockey goalie.
The objective is to throw the ball on the ground and across the court, as hard and as fast as you can to get past the three defenders using their hearing to locate and track the ball, and their bodies laying down on the ground to stop the ball from going into the net. Because all of the players are blindfolded, everyone’s level of vision is equal.
If you’re looking for a sport that you can call your own, wanting to try something new, or just looking to join a new community, check out goalball! All ages, genders, and skill levels are welcome. Please contact Susan at susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca or call 1-877-604-8638 to find out how you can register.


Ontario’s Justin Karn and BC’s Christina Mowatt are set to compete at the 2023 Parapan Am Games in Para judo.
Mowatt will be competing at her first major multi-sport Games. Ranked world No. 17 in her category and No. 5 in the Americas, she was fifth at the 2022 World Championships. Both Karn and Mowatt recently participated in the 2023 World Championships, held during the IBSA World Games in Birmingham, Great Britain.
If you are interested in learning more about Blind judo, contact Susan at the Blind Sports office susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca

Interview with BC blind judoka, Christina Mowatt

Christina Mowatt breathes hard as she leaves the gym after an intense training session at the Burnaby Police Judo Club. She improves her speed and balance with her coach, Chin-I Hsiang, ahead of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)’s Judo World Championships in Birmingham, UK.
Judo, meaning “the gentle way” in Japanese, is a combat sport where a
combatant—called a Judoka—throws the opponent onto the mat. The goal of a judo fight is to have the opponent’s back and both shoulders on the mat. Judokas also score points by having the opponent’s one shoulder touching the mat, hold-downs, and submissions such as armbars and strangulations. Judo is unlike other common combat sports like Karate,
Taekwondo, or boxing, where combatants attack each other with punches and kicks.
Para (or blind) Judo is accessible for the partially sighted or blind with few adaptations from regular judo. “Opponents start at the center with constant contact, gripping onto the sleeve and lapel of the uniform, called a judogi. Their arms are always touching, with one’s left arm touching the other’s right arm or vice versa, depending on if the combatants are right or left-handed,” Mowatt describes para judo’s modifications and match procedure.
“IF contact is broken, the clock is stopped, and the referee repositions the combatants back at center. The referee will warn you when you’re getting close to the boundary of the mat.”
Since December 2021, the IBSA classifies the combatants based on their vision level into J1 (totally blind to having some light perception) and J2 (can see hand movements to having up to five percent functional vision) to ensure competitive fairness. Before the change, para judokas who were classified from B1 to B3 would compete together, regardless of their vision level, which many people believed caused unfairness. Some Judokas who belonged in the top part of the B3 class are now deemed to have enough vision to compete in able-bodied judo.
Mowatt is a J1 blind judoka from Burnaby, BC who has been practising judo for six years. She is a brown-belt—the highest of the six student (“kyu”) ranks. The other belt ranks from lowest to highest are white, yellow, orange, green, and blue, with mixed-colour belts in between each rank.
Born in Vancouver, Mowatt has been blind from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) since birth. She met Priscilla Gagné and competed together at a wrestling event while attending W. Ross Macdonald Residential School for the Blind in Brantford, Ont.
Mowatt’s desire to pursue judo surfaced after reconnecting with Gagné ten years later and realized that Gagné has been competing internationally and was on Canada’s Paralympic team for ten years.
Mowatt began practising judo at age 28. She joined the Burnaby Judo Club at the Bonsor Community Center. “It was pretty daunting,” she recalls. “When I first got there. I was like, ‘What am I getting myself into?’ And then I kept it up for a few months, and everyone at the club went above and beyond for me and was really supportive.”
She began competing after meeting Judo Canada Paralympic coach, Andrzej Sadej. She debuted internationally at the IBSA Pan Am Championships in Montreal in 2020 where she won bronze.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all because I was a green belt at the time and I had only been involved with judo for a year and a half,” Mowatt remembers her surprise in winning bronze. “I was the underdog, but I won against the world’s third-ranked judoka in five seconds. That was pretty cool. I never felt that elated before!”
Mowatt was joyful to inspire upwards of 60 women aged 16 and up at Judo BC’s “The Gentle Way to Empowerment” self-defence workshop for women in June 2023.
“It was good to see the women there,” she says. She was demonstrating judo throws among the Canadian Olympian and Paralympian judokas, as well as law enforcement officials. “They were pretty inspired. Many came and talked to me.”
Mowatt encourages blind or partially sighted individuals who wants to join judo to give it a try. Mowatt adds the Canadian national team welcomes more blind judokas to join its current three members in the Paralympic program.
Mowatt, who embraces the pressure and performs well under the spotlight, will fight in the Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile in November after the World Championships. She will also fight in Grand Prix stops in Japan and Germany in the winter. While Gagné, the reigning Paralympics silver medalist, has qualified for the 2024 Summer Paralympics, Mowatt sets her sights on qualifying for Los Angeles 2028.
If you are interested in learning more about Blind judo, contact Susan at the Blind Sports office susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca

4. In-Person Program Updates

If you are interested in joining any of the in-person fitness classes, please email susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca or call the office at 1-877-604-8638.
Kelowna – In-person Fitness Classes
Classes are held on Thursdays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm
• December schedule: December 7th and 21st.  The facility is unavailable on Dec 14th. Classes will resume after the holidays on January 11th
Nanaimo – In-person Fitness Classes
Classes are held on Mondays from 2pm to 3pm
• Schedule: November 13th and 20th. There will be no classes after the 20th until January 8th

5. Online Program Updates

Chair Yoga with Candice – Sundays at 6pm
Dragon Boat Fitness with Cindy – Mondays at 7pm
Fitness with Brian – Thursdays 7pm
Programs will be on break during the holiday season:
• Chair Yoga with Candice: Last class December 17th and restart will be January 7th
• Dragon Boat Fitness: Last class December 18th and restart will be January 8th
• Fitness with Brian: Last class December 21st and restart will be January 11th
Please note that the Wednesday 2pm Fitness with Brian class and the Thursday 12pm Chair Yoga with Candice class have been canceled due to low participation.
The next online meeting for our BC Active Living Network meeting will be on Tuesday, November 21st at 7pm.

6. Dragon Boat Season Wrap-Up

BC Blind Sports has four Dragon Boat teams around the province. The teams are made up of seven to thirteen blind or partially sighted paddlers and the balance is sighted paddlers.
BC Blind Sports had four teams:
Vancouver- Dragons Insight,
Vancouver – Vision Impossible,
Kelowna – Sonar Dragons,
Fort Langley – Ex-Sighted
In late June, Vision Impossible and Dragons Insight were combined into one team for purposes of competition.
Oddball Workshop, who are the official team outfitter for Dragon Boat BC, awarded BC Blind Sports with their Oddball Community Grant. The funding from Oddball was used to cover the costs of registration fees for the festivals.  This was a huge benefit and our teams were able to participate in more events than usual.
Vision Impossible was able to participate in four events and the Sonar Dragons participated in Concord and Penticton. Because of the funding for event entry, the Sonar Dragons were able to come from Kelowna to Vancouver to participate in Concord.
We were able to build capacity in the blind sport and broader dragon boating community.  We had new paddlers and were able to increase awareness of our teams and paddlers who are blind and created interest for next season.
Due to the rising costs and limited other funds this grant from Oddball was extremely helpful in allowing our teams to participate in more events. Without it, we would only have enough funding for one event per team and little funding for travel to competitions.
Thank you to Oddball Workshop and all of our volunteers for helping to make this season of dragon boating a success.

7. Hockey

The 2023-2024 Blind Ice Hockey season is well underway. The program has two ice times: Sunday mornings in Surrey and every second Friday in New Westminster.
If you have been wanting to play hockey but thought it wasn’t possible for someone who is blind, partially sighted, or deafblind, your opportunity awaits. The parasport of blind hockey has a few adaptations – such as a larger, slower puck that makes noise and a slightly smaller net – but generally, it’s the same as sighted hockey.
To join, the participants need to:
– Be a member in good standing with BC Blind Sports
– Be able to skate at a beginner level without any aids for support
If you are interested in participating, and to check for ice times and locations please email Susan at BC Blind Sports at susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca.
We are also looking for a volunteer to run the time clock at either of the ice times and a second person to assist with refereeing. If you are interested or have any questions, please reach out to Susan at BC Blind Sports susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca
Also, stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of a new youth hockey program put on by Canadian Blind Hockey starting early in the new year!

8. Remembrance Day

On November 11th, Remembrance Day, we solemnly recognize and honor the service and sacrifices of our nation’s veterans. We extend our deepest gratitude to our veterans, their families, and loved ones. We unite to remember and pay our respects. We honour the memory of those no longer with us and strive to build a future founded on peace and inclusivity.

9. Contact Us

For information on any of our programs and activities, please email susan@bcblindsports.bc.ca or lachlan@bcblindsports.bc.ca or call the office at 604-325-8638 or 1-877-604-8638. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
We wish you warmth and joy this holiday season!
BC Blind Sports Staff: Jane, David, Lachlan, Linda, and Susan
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