The Shelley Gautier Para-Sport Foundation helps Ontarians with disabilities stay active in their communities through para cycling.
The Shelley Gautier Para-Sport Foundation
The foundation is named for its honorary chairperson, Paralympic athlete Shelley Gautier. Gautier, a globally renowned Para cyclist, competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic games. Her foundation gives people with disabilities across and beyond Ontario the chance to be involved in recreational sports. Participants can enjoy a healthy lifestyle, travel around their communities, and meet new people while they learn a new sport or rediscover an old one.
Community Para Cycling
The foundation loans para cycling equipment to communities around Ontario, so that those communities can create para cycling programs. Currently, there are programs in Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo, Whitby, and the Niagara region of Ontario, as well as in Bromont, Quebec.
People who participate in the programs may ride handcycles or tandem bicycles. Handcycles usually have three wheels, two small ones at the back and one large one at the front for steering. Riders with physical disabilities move and steer using hand controls. Tandem bicycles have two seats and two sets of peddles. A rider with a visual impairment peddles from the rear seat, while a sighted rider steers and peddles at the front.
The Shelley Gautier Para-Sport Foundation works with its partnership communities to create programs. It helps to train coaches and volunteers who steer tandem bikes and support participants as they ride. Some participants may be riding for the first time. Others may have ridden standard bikes before and are now learning to ride adaptive bikes. Others may have handcycled or tandem-biked before and can now enjoy doing so on a long-term basis, through regular access to equipment. Some riders may choose to seek out further training and consider entering athletic competitions which might eventually lead to the Paralympics. Other riders choose to remain at the recreational level and enjoy being active within their communities.