APRIL 27 – Family Matters

Mark and Heather Evans have long been proponents of involvement in sport and leading an active lifestyle. This belief is reflected in their daughter Emma, who is in the fifth grade. From a young age, Emma would get up in the morning and do sit-ups alongside her father, challenging each other to do more each day. Recognizing Emma’s penchant for competition, the Evans began to involve their daughter in organized sport.

From soccer to synchronized swimming to dance, there is very little that Emma has not tried. While her cerebral palsy has not stood in her way, “she has spent a number of years looking for a forum where she could compete on an equal footing with her peers,” explains her father, Mark. This search has lead Emma to para-athletics. The classification system within the sport assigns athletes to classes based upon their functionality. This ensures that athletes are competing in the most equitable groups.

Emma has found an environment to nurture her quest for self-improvement: “I like the feeling after you have finished a run, knowing what to work on.” She now trains with her coach, Craig Blackman out of Monarch Park in Toronto working toward the 60m, 100m and 150m events. Emma will also be running for her school at the Toronto Catholic District School Board City Championships on May 28th, where there will be events for para-athletes.

Para-athletics provides Emma with an environment where her competitive spirit can thrive. Mark describes what their family has found most rewarding: “seeing our daughter take on a new challenge, finding that it is both fun and exciting and that there is a whole culture of people who are keen on sport and on being the best they can be.”

Emma would like to encourage others to try track and field. “I would tell them to come with an open mind willing to try new things,” she says. Para-athletics offers a vast array of disciplines to suit diverse interests. Mark would also encourage other parents to get their children involved: “Go for it! [There is] everything from racing to throwing to jumping- there is something for everyone and, with the classification system, there is an opportunity for everyone to compete on a level (but still very challenging) playing field.”

For more information about para-athletics contact [email protected]