On Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, Queen’s University will once again host the Winter Adapted Games, an annual event which pairs students in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, as well as those in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, with members of the Kingston community who have identified disabilities, all of whom take part in an exciting day of non-competitive sports and other activities.
The Winter Adapted Games was first held in 1991 and has become an annual tradition at the school, with dozens of students volunteering to organize the event every year. “There’s about 20 members of this club,” noted Alex Worden, a public relations representative for the event. “Students at Queen’s have the passion for being able to run events like this and have the enthusiasm to work to bring this day together and connect everybody within the communities… I think that’s why it’s been supported for so long.”
“It’s super important, not only just for students in Kinesiology to get involved,” Worden went on, “but it also [allows] people in the Kingston community with disabilities to be able to get involved with such cool programs at Queen’s.”
This year, over 100 students have volunteered to take part in the one-day event. On the day, each student will be paired with a “buddy,” someone from the Kingston community with an identified disability, and the two will take part in various activities throughout the day. Said Worden, “It’s an [opportunity for everyone] to have a fun day and be able to go around together [to the various activities]. There’s not a lot of pressure; it’s very light, very fun.”
This year, the majority of volunteers are students within the Schools of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Studies; however, the Winter Adapted Games is open to volunteers in other programs too, allowing a diverse range of students from throughout the university to take part. While the event is often a big hit within the Queen’s community, Worden also noted its popularity among those to whom the programming is specifically targeted: individuals with disabilities.
“I think they look forward to this day all year… They really do find it [to be] a great day, and they always look forward to coming back,” he shared.
The 2023 event marks the first in-person Winter Adapted Games since 2020, after organizers were forced to move the program online in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Worden, volunteers noticed a downturn in attendance during the two years in which the event was held virtually. “We didn’t have a lot of participants [attend] over Zoom, which is understandable. We usually had around 30 participants do our events over Zoom… so we were able to take what we usually do in person and adapt it [for] an online format. We still had buddies come in and make all the participants feel like they would feel if they were to come in person.”
“There was definitely a downside,” Worden acknowledged, “but I think we were able to get the best out of it… We would even drop off certain activities and crafts for [participants] to do with us on the day over Zoom. So we were able to combat [the pandemic] in a pretty [innovative] way.”
For this year’s event, organizers have lined up an exciting day of activities, including a sleigh ride around Queen’s campus, swimming in the ARC (Athletics and Recreation Centre) pool, as well as arts and crafts. “We have a whole bunch of dance classes going on. [There’s] yoga, we have karate class, Zumba… And then we also have activities running in the gym, like basketball, soccer, [and] dodgeball,” said Worden.
The 2023 Winter Adapted Games is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Queen’s ARC (284 Earl Street). More information on the event, as well as volunteer applications and information for participants and/or their parents and caregivers, can be found on the Winter Adapted Games website.