Brock Niagara Penguins strives to foster opportunities for youth and adults with physical disabilities in a recreational setting. We promote physical activity and offers sporting opportunities for those with physical disabilities.
The aim is to have participants experience success through achievement, while developing social and leadership skills that are critical in fostering a healthy and caring community.
Brock Niagara Penguins allows youth and adults the opportunity to meet friends, have fun and develop a healthy active lifestyle. The focus is placed on building individual’s confidence and self-esteem, in an environment without inadvertent road blocks and restrictions. Penguins’ participants will aspire to be role models with peers and responsible community leaders.
Brock Niagara Penguins provides not only opportunities for youth and adults with physical disabilities, but also allows a place where brothers and sisters, able-bodied or disabled, develop together. Continued accomplishments and growth will act as a model for the success of the program.
“The emphasis is on individual achievements and gaining skills as a member of a strong team”
In 2006, a small group of people recognized the importance of starting a program for athletes with physical disabilities, where children and young adults could play on a team, experience being a team member, expand their physical literacy skills and have the opportunity to compete amongst their peers. With welcoming arms from Brock Recreatios and the Brock Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, and seed grants from the Ronald McDonald Foundation, United Way and Canadian Paralympic Committee, we were able to purchase equipment such as sport chairs, indoor sledges and a pool lift to start the program. It was important that the athletes had access to the necessary equipment, to be successful without having to purchase it themselves.
Brock Niagara Penguins started with a swim program, twice a week, with a small sibling included sports program on the weekend. This sports program quickly evolved to include a wheelchair basketball team. The third sport was added in 2013, when it was recognized that athletes who were unable to propel themselves in chair, still deserved to be able to complete, and therefore Paralympic boccia was developed, in partnership with the Niagara Children’s Centre.
Brock Niagara Penguins have had great media stories, like a past wheelchair basketball player, who after a spinal cord injury, came out to try wheelchair basketball, his first exposure to disabled sport. Basketball was not his passion, but through Penguin contacts found out about sledge hockey, and assisted Canada to win the gold in the last winter Olympics.
However Brock Niagara Penguins is equally proud of the smaller individual stories it has helped to create over the years. Athletes are proud to wear their Penguin shirts to school every Wednesday, before Boccia practice, athletes who attend their first basketball tournament and score their first basket for the team, athletes who are so excited that their fellow swimmer dove off the starting blocks and did a 50 m front crawl, they could not stop high fiving everyone on the side lines at a local swim meet.
Each athlete has been a contributing member of a team, while gaining individual skills, and supporting the mission of the Penguins.
However the Penguins is so much more than the athletes in the gym, pool and court. It is possible because of the volunteers that come out to all the practices, games and events. Every year we rely on volunteers to assist the athletes and support the program, with over 25 volunteers actively involved every year, from the community, Brock University and Niagara College.
Penguins also relies on support from organizations and community members who year after year provide donations and in-kind funding to support the program and athletes. Organizations such as: Lawson Foundation, the Shelley Gautier Foundation, Canadian Tire Financial, Ask UJN, Walker Industries, Central Auto Service, Fonthill Kinsmen, Deloitte, Lepore and Company, and SunDawn – cheers to each of you as well as all our individual supporters.