cool device

As a full-time wheelchair user, I am thrilled to see this stand-up mobility product where a person who is paralyzed can get around standing up. In the video you can see the person shopping, cooking, cleaning, and interacting with others from a standing position. The device is relatively narrow compared to even a small wheelchair. I would love to be able to get around upright and to interact with others at eye level without craning my neck! Standing upright and being “tall” again is something I really miss! Here is the link:   Instead of a wheelchair

Speedo Para-Swimming Championships









The 2009 Speedo CAN-AM Para Swimming Championships are being held July 30-31, Aug 1 at the Kinsmen Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB.  Heats: 9:30 am – 12 pm; Finals: 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm.  Swimmers with a broad range of disabilities (functional, visual, and intellectual) will be attending from Canada, the United States, Australia, and Nigeria.  For more information on the competition check here.

Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limbs


This is a video featuring twenty-six year old Nick Vujicic who was born without arms or legs.  He is a young Australian man who has found strength through his faith and is inspiring many people through his motivational speaking.  More information on his life and work can be found at

More videos of Nick and some of his talks can be found on YouTube.  Seeing him navigate through some of his daily routine gives interesting insight into what many able bodied persons may take for granted.  It was especially thought provoking to see him jump into a pool and swim!  See here.

Natalie Du Toit 10km swim result

[picture of Natalie Du Toit preparing to dive into the pool from what appears to be a dustjacket for a book; small, typed writing on bottom half of page]
Natalie Du Toit
, an amputee swimmer who qualified for the able bodied 10 km swim in Beijing, has just placed 16th in that event, more than one minute behind winner Larisa Ilchenko of Russia. She had kept up with the lead pack for most of the race but could not keep up when the pace quickened in the latter part of the race. She was disappointed with her result hoping for a top five placing. She plans to be back in the London 2012 Olympics in that event. She will be staying in Beijing for the next month to compete in the Paralympics.

Continue reading

African American Swimmer Wins Gold Medal

Cullen Jones, only the second African American to ever swim on the US Olympic swim team, won a gold medal in the 4×100 free relay that broke the world record and also upset the French team in an unbelievable comeback finish.

Cullen, who nearly drowned as a young boy, is also a spokesperson for USA Swimming’s Make a Splash program which is promoting swimming among minorities. It has been shown that among ethnically diverse groups, they are nearly three times more likely to drown than the national average.

You can see a range of other sports-related posts at What Sorts right here

Beijing attempting to ban blacks in bars?

With less than three weeks prior to the Beijing Olympics, the South China Morning Post has reported that bar owners in the Sanlitun district have been instructed not to serve persons with dark skin. The article reports:

Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.”Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.

Although some query the validity of this report, it is creating quite a buzz in the blogging world.  Read further on this story here.

Deaf Swimmer

Since seeing an announcement about USA Swimming’s selection criteria for the 2009 Deaflympic Games in Taipei, Taiwan, I was reminded of a deaf swimmer that I grew up swimming with in the 1970s. Her name is Shannon Brophy and she broke a world record for the deaf in the 200 meter breastroke back in 1977 at the Deaflympics in Bucharest, Romania. She came in third at the 2005 World Master’s Games in Edmonton in the 50 meter breastroke competing against non-deaf athletes of her age group. She grew up swimming with the North Edmonton Sharks swim club for many years and was the first swimmer with a disability that I knew as a child.

It is interesting to note that the Deaflympics, held every 4 years, and are the longest running multi-sport event excluding the Olympics themselves. The first games, held in Paris in 1924, were also the first ever international sporting event for athletes with a disability.

Adam Bender

This eight year old Kentucky boy is an above knee amputee following cancer that he had when he was one. Amazingly, he has been able to play sports like baseball, football, and soccer. He does not where a prosthesis because it slows him down when he is playing. This article also has a video of him playing baseball. He plays as a catcher while squatting down on his right leg and is able to pop up from that position without any strain. When he hits the ball he is able to hop nimbly to first base and then continue running the bases after being handed his crutches by his coach. What an inspiring athlete!

Swimming and Race

A recent national, first-of-its kind survey found that approximately six out of ten African-American children are unable to swim, nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts while fifty-six percent of Hispanic and Latino children are unable to swim. The study by USA Swimming, the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming, found that the significant gap in swimming between races was due mainly to parental influence and socioeconomic factors.

Recently, Bruce Wigo, CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, spoke on’s ‘Chlorination’, episode seventeen stating that less than 1% of all competitive swimmers are African American. “For the first fifty years of the last century, blacks were entirely excluded from our pools.” Swimming has been engrained in generations of white families and has not diversified into other ethnic groups. Seventy-seven percent of African-American women do not know how to swim and would be less likely to bring their children to a swimming pool.

The USA Swimming Foundation is actively trying to break this cycle and the disproportionately high drowning rate amongst ethnically diverse populations with their Make a Splash initiative. One of their spokespersons is Cullen Jones, the first African-American swimming world record holder and Olympic hopeful in the 50 free. Here is more on his story.

Another good article about the few African-American elite swimmers breaking barriers in their sport can be read on ESPN.

Indigenous Worship

There is a conference happening June 19-21 called ‘Hear the Call of the Drum’ which emphasizes Christian aboriginals worshiping their Creator within the context of aboriginal culture. The vision of the aboriginal ministry movement started by the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) is:

1. community development and leadership development within local communities

2. diaconal ministry to help people with immediate needs

3. healing and redeeming ministry for individuals and communities

4. advocacy for justice for aboriginal peoples within Canada

Aboriginal ministry is carried out through:

1) Aboriginal ministries such as Indian Family Centre (Winnipeg), Indian Metis Christian Fellowship (Regina), Native Healing Centre (Edmonton);

2) Outreach ministries by CRC congregations in other communities which include aboriginal people;

3) Reconciliation and awareness-raising activities within CRC congregations throughout Canada;

4) Linkage to local classes and churches;

5) Advocacy activities to reduce racism and work for justice from the level of local communities to the federal government in Canada

Concerts and other workshops will take place in the inner city area of Edmonton. For more information on the event and the movement, check here.

Jack McCann

   [For hearing impaired readers: The sound in this video includes the introduction of Jack, bad music, and lots of cheering.]  Jack McCann is a wheelchair bodybuilder that I met at the Kinsmen Sports Center in Edmonton. He had polio as an infant and then had a lumbosacral tumor in his spine in 1991. He has competed all over the world and has won eight Masters titles at the Wheelchair Bodybuilding Nationals. The video above shows Jack competing at the Rocky Mountain Championship in 2006. This linked video shows Jack competing at the national championships in 2007.

Natalie Du Toit

Being an L1 paraplegic who also swims to keep fit and who grew up as a competitive swimmer, I was amazed when I read about this South African amputee swimmer who made it to the Beijing Olympics in the able bodied 10km open water swim. Natalie Du Toit was amputated through her left knee after being hit by a car back in 2001. She does not use a prosthetic leg when she swims. She recently came fourth in the Open Water World Championships where she qualified for Beijing. I am looking forward to seeing how she performs at the Olympics later this summer.

This article talks more about her story. I decided to blog on this after reading about Oscar Pistorius on the post by Spirit of the Time.

Update ( 08.08.08 ) by Spirit of the Time: see also this more recent What Sorts post on Natalie Du Toit, written just before and after the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.

Update ( 20.08.08 ) by Spirit of the Time: see also this recent What Sorts post on Natalie’s 10km swim results.