The Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), Montérégie region is an example of a social player who has developed a better knowledge and understanding of the concept of universal accessibility, has contributed to it and has even become a leader in the student community.
The regional council has the most developed adapted sports program in the province of Quebec and has been offering a growing number of sports disciplines since 2014.
After attending the Défi sportif AlterGo, the Executive Director of RSEQ Montérégie recognized a need and wanted to correct it.
“Our programs were not serving the needs of some of our school’s clientele. The challenge,” recalls Sylvie Cornellier, “was to identify the right resource persons in each school.”
Thanks to financial support from Défi sportif AlterGo, a project under the Choisir de Gagner initiative supported financially by Québec en Forme until August 2018, Ms. Cornellier was able to hire a coordinator who will be responsible for identifying school leaders and developing specific programs.
At the Beginning
During the 2014–2015 school year, RSEQ Montérégie organized its first ball hockey tournament for athletes with a functional limitation.
The following year, the organization presented two such tournaments, but also offered outdoor athletics as well as volleyball.
“We invited school officials to the first competitions so they could see firsthand the youth’s overall integration. Now, inclusive sports teams wear their school’s colours, just like all the other sports teams,” explains Ms. Cornellier.
In 2017–2018, the RSEQ Montérégie offered the same disciplines in inclusive sport as in high school sports. This includes ball hockey, swimming, volleyball, soccer, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics and cross-country tournaments.
Thus, 25 teams participated in group disciplines and 247 student-athletes in individual disciplines.
“This year, we want to add indoor athletics. If popular, we will hold at least two competitions next year. We are continuing our promotional efforts with participating schools, but we are also trying to recruit new institutions,” stated the Executive Director of RSEQ Montérégie.
In addition, two prize categories are awarded at the Gala of Excellence at the end of the year to student-athletes who have excelled in inclusive sport. “This is another great opportunity to integrate these young people into our activities,” notes Ms. Cornellier.
Sharing the Recipe
According to Ms. Cornellier, the program’s success is closely linked to the commitment of her team, who have made it their priority and who have been able to count on dedicated resources.
The director is trying to help other regional bodies to offer inclusive sport, whether as tournaments, occasional competitions, or leagues.
“I am trying to provide them with as much information as possible, for example, on regulations or suitable facilities. There are some small details to consider, but after doing it a few times, it’s no more complicated than for the regular activities,” says Ms. Cornellier.