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Work and Play at Encounters with Canada
Sports and Fitness week started off with a bang at the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre last February! Jean Labonté, team captain of the Canadian sledge hockey team at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and proud Canadian flag bearer during the ceremonies at BC Place, spoke with passion and conviction, inspiring the riveted crowd of young participants from across the country.
While circulating the gold medal he and his team won during the Torino Olympic Games in 2006, Jean related his personal story. At 17 years of age, he was diagnosed with the same cancer as Terry Fox, and had a leg amputated at the knee. But as he proudly donned his Canadian Olympic hockey jersey, he told the participants to never ever abandon their dreams and ambitions, even in the face of great adversity, and to remember to always enjoy both the journey, as well as the destination.
Sports and Fitness participants were treated to cool and exciting sports activities throughout the week – an introduction to martial arts, Ultimate Frisbee, B-Boy hip-hop dancing, Zumba – a fusion of aerobic fitness and Latin music, yoga, aqua-fitness, skiing, snowboarding, skating on the Rideau Canal and a 5km walk in honour of Terry Fox culminating some $1,784 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Winter volleyball was a bit hit, too (who knew?).
One of the highpoints of the week was the Clip ‘N Climb activity at Altitude Gym, located in an old church in Gatineau, Quebec. Truly the Mecca of wall-climbing and a unique concept in North America exported from New Zealand – think wall-climbing meets theme park - and you have some idea of this fantasy world. For two and one half fun-filled hours, EWC participants explored the 32 different and individually themed climbing challenges, pushing their physical skills to the limit. “It was so much cooler than just rock climbing,” said one of the participants.
Other exciting adventures awaited the participants throughout the week - a very moving Peace module, an evening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, discussions and workshops, and so much more.
Fifteen-year-old Allison Stoodley from Grand Bank, Newfoundland, made her own news. While meeting her local Member of Parliament, Judy Foote, she came face to face with the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff, MP Justin Trudeau, the first Canadian in space astronaut, Marc Garneau, former NHL goaltender Ken Dryden and several other Canadian leaders, as the exited from Question Period. Every one of them took the time to speak with Allison, inquiring about her week at Encounters and had their picture taken with her.