The Inclusion Event Recap
Wednesday, November 1st forces combined for The Inclusion Event 2023. A night to bring together all members of the community in an informal format and share how inclusion and accessibility benefit all people. All ages, abilities, and backgrounds came together for an epic evening. An evening that had all the greatness of prizes, adaptive sports, Dr. Okanlami “Dr. O” as the truly memorable keynote speaker, a meet and greet with Paralympic Silver medalist and Co-Captain of USA Wheelchair Rugby Chuck Aoki offering signed photos, not just one, but TWO cakes, and it was free to attend thanks to our many generous sponsors.
Pulling up with a loaded trailer, members from University of Michigan’s Adaptive Sport and Fitness program brought enough adaptive sport equipment to border the attendees with playing areas for seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, boccia ball, wheelchair rugby, or goalball (a game played with ball with a bell in it and all players blindfolded). Before attendees were able to play the games, they were enlightened by Dr. O on adaptive sports and their ability of providing inclusion. Within his keynote talk, Dr. O shared how he grew up as the child of two medical physicians and was a Division I Track & Field collegiate athlete at Stanford. Yet, before his spinal cord injury he never knew of the world within adaptive sports. Since then, he has made it a personal mission and career to share benefits of adaptive sports and how they enhance lives and bring peers together.
Following Dr. O speaking, we used the remainder of our evening encouraging attendees to enter any or all of the many raffles that we had going on and to use any of the adaptive sport equipment on site they wanted. Smiles and excitement filled the room as many people tried sports they had never experienced first-hand. We are happy to see all the people that showed up and allowed us to share the world of adaptive sports as another asset we can use for truly inclusive communities.
Lastly, we hope all the attendees had loads of fun, met some new people, played some adaptive sports and maybe even won a raffle prize or several, and left with new perceptions of what inclusion can be. As Dr. O said, “We aren’t able to change the past. But we can do something. We can do something to impact our future through adding purposeful inclusion into our everyday lives for the benefit of all people”.