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Wheelchair curling 'funspiel' returns for 2nd year

In this version of curling, all players must be seated in a wheelchair, use push sticks to fire off shots if needed, and there aren't any sweepers on the ice. (Source: Zach Kitchen, CTV News) In this version of curling, all players must be seated in a wheelchair, use push sticks to fire off shots if needed, and there aren't any sweepers on the ice. (Source: Zach Kitchen, CTV News)
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A sporting event putting a twist on one of Manitoba's favourite games has returned for its second year, raising both money and awareness for a good cause.

It was the First Steps Wellness Centre's 2nd annual Wheelchair Curling Funspiel at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club Saturday. Event organizer Jonas Mark said that while the winter weather kept some out-of-town competitors away, there were just as many teams registered as last year.

"No matter your level of function, whether you're living with a disability or not, you can participate in wheelchair curling," Mark said.

In this version of curling, all players must be seated in a wheelchair, use push sticks to fire off shots if needed, and there aren't any sweepers on the ice.

Mark says the idea behind adapting the sport to wheelchair use was to show how people with spinal cord injuries can adapt as well.

"A lot of people get told that they'll never do something again, or they'll have a certain outlook on life based on their initial prognosis or initial diagnosis," said Mark. "But we often see a lot of people in our clinic doing things that they were told they would never do."

The First Steps Wellness Centre works to help people with spinal injuries or other neurological disorders live full lives. Mark says in order to do that, it's important for people to try new things.

"I really hope people will take a positive experience away from it," he said. "Ultimately, it's challenging to try new things and step out of your comfort zone.”

"I think it's very beneficial in the sense that people can experience something new and share it with their colleagues, share with their family and friends," Mark said.

The event raised $10,000 last year, and Mark said they were close to that goal again this year. All funds raised will go towards supporting the centre's activity-based programming.

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