Ken Danby PS students organize Goalball event for National Accessibility Week
May 30, 2023
GUELPH, ON – Five grade 6 students at Ken Danby Public School organized a Goalball event at their school to kick off National Accessibility Week.
Goalball is a team sport that is designed for those who have a visual impairment. On teams of three, participants try to throw a ball into their opponents’ goal. This ball is thrown by hand and is never kicked. Players are made aware of the ball’s position because there are bells embedded inside the ball. Players use the sound created by the ball to try and stop their opponents from scoring.
Earlier this year students in Lisa Breton’s grade 6 class, along with Teacher Librarian Stacey Periard, explored the framework of Gholdy Muhammad. As part of this project, students were broken into different groups to brainstorm ways to actively dismantle racism or oppression in their school community.
After reviewing many books about sports for their age level and noticing that the common theme of these books was that sports are often played by white, able-bodied boys, a group of five students decided to create an event to change this narrative and help promote accessibility in sports.
Grade 6 boys Manyad, Jacob, Declan, Hayden and Athi set to work on deciding how to make sports more accessible in their school. With help from Periard and Breton, the students reached out to the Upper Grand District School Board’s Accessibility and Ableism Curriculum Lead Sarrah Beemer, where together, the idea of bringing Goalball to the school was born.
These students then created a presentation to inform and engage their peers about the event. Due to the nature of Goalball being teams of three, students then asked their peers to apply to participate by writing a letter about why they would like to participate in Goalball, what they hoped to gain from the experience and how this opportunity would challenge stereotypes around sports.
The group received many applications with powerful insights to the questions asked. Applications from students included responses about wanting to try something new and learn how to be in someone else’s shoes, learning more about accessible sports and gaining a first-hand perspective about playing sports with a disability. One student said, “I think that everyone deserves to play sports [regardless of their abilities],” which is why they wanted to learn more about this event.
The student group contacted the Ontario Blind Sports Association (OBSA) about coming to the school to teach students about Goalball. On May 29, to kick off National Accessibility Week, several grade 6 students put on blindfolds and learned how to play Goalball with their vision impaired. Program Manager of OBSA Richard Amelard was on-hand to guide students through this experience.
Students and staff involved in the day had a great time learning about a new accessible sport and hope that other schools can follow in their footsteps to include more accessible sports in their school.
Great job Manyad, Jacob, Declan, Hayden and Athi on organizing such a successful event and getting students engaged during National Accessibility Week.