Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our Last Day in Toronto

August 15, 2015

     As sad as it is to be saying goodbye to the beautiful city of Toronto, I must say that our last day will always be remembered as my favorite day. It started out with an early breakfast, followed by a meeting with the USA women’s Wheelchair Basketball team where we got to take pictures with their medals and learn about their training, their chairs and much more. Getting to meet them on this day was made even sweeter due to the fact that they had just won their gold medal the night before! Immediately following, we found a spot in the stands and got to watch the USA men’s Wheelchair Basketball team dominate Canada in the final game for the gold medal. Seeing our flag fly high over the court was such an incredible moment. To end our trip, we were taken on a cruise on Lake Ontario where we spent our last night together as a group reminiscing about all of our favorite parts of this trip and how much we learned. Such a great experience with such amazing people. I am sad that the trip must come to an end but I know this group will be forever bonded by the experiences and the memories we gained from Toronto 2015.

     Judo is derived from the martial art sport of jujitsu. In the Parapan American games, Judo consists of athletes who have visual impairments. There are three classifications for Judo based on the level of impairment each athlete acquires. B1 classified athletes are those with low visual acuity or complete blindness. The next classification, B2, is for athletes wit hslightly higher visual acuity than that of B1 but cannot recognize the letter “E” from 4 meters away. The athletes with the least visual impairment are classified under B3.

     --Courtney Keeling

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oh, Canada!

August 14, 2015

I cannot express to you guys how much this trip has meant to me. Without a doubt, the best experience I've ever had.

We have done so much in these past ten days, I am ready to be back in my bed with my feet up watching some Netflix. Along with doing so much, I think that I have walked more here than all of the spring semester (joking, but really though). We've gone to a Blue Jays game, Niagara Falls, Kensington Market, Ontario Science Center, and little things in between, and we still have the CN Tower to visit tomorrow and a dinner cruise on a yacht. 

I have absolutely loved my job. Athlete Services Crew (aka Super Pit Crew) was in charge of moving the athletes equipment to practice courts and competition courts. This position allowed us to interact a lot with these athletes (and get tons of pins for our lanyards). Shout out to all of the Super Pit Crew supervisors: Ryan, Sarah, Katrina, and Christina! Gonna miss all of you guys and thank you so much for making this an awesome experience for all of us.

Tonight was definitely a very exciting night! On my last day off, I was able to watch the United States women win the gold medal in wheelchair basketball. That was a truly amazing experience. Plus, we were on the big screen and on TV. Tomorrow is another big day because it's the gold medal match in wheelchair basketball for the men; Canada vs. U.S.A.

An interesting sport that is associated with the Parapan Am Games is wheelchair tennis. Wheelchair tennis was first introduced to the games in 1988. This sport is only open to athletes with permanent loss of function in one or both legs and the main difference between in the rules of able-bodied tennis is that they are allowed two bounces instead of one.  

--Garrett Nugent

The College of Education delegation to the Toronto 2015 ParaPan Am Games pose with members of the U.S. wheelchair women's basketball team that won the gold medal.  Proud of both!  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

At Casa Loma

August 13, 2015

Today we toured Casa Loma. Casa Loma is a castle that was built for the Pallet’s. The castle stands on 5 acres of land. We were un sure of how we were going to find out all the information about the castle but when we got there we got free audio devices to listen to in each room. There was so much information to be told. One of the main facts that I learned that I thought was amazing was that back in the time when the Pallet’s lived in the castle, there were a total of 200 phones in Toronto and the Pallet’s owned 50 of them. We all gasped when we heard that number.

            As we finished up the tour we pretended to be Rapunzel and take picture with our hair going down a tower. Then we headed to Little Italy for lunch. We did not have a particular restaurant in mind so we wondered around searching for a restaurant. We found this outdoor restaurant and stopped there. Little did we know, we would be enjoying our favorite meal of the trip. I had what is called a scroll with beef, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and horseradish sauce. These scrolls were wrapped in a light tortilla like wrap and we got a side salad. It was AMAZING. We all got different things and decided everything was good.

            After lunch we headed to work and moved more wheelchairs and watched some semi final games. These games were really good and we had less wheelchairs to move so it was even better!

--Aubrey Moore

A Whirlwind of Adventures

August 13, 2015

     Salutations! We have reach the home stretch with 2 full days left in Toronto! As anxious as I was to be away from home and out of the country for the first time, this trip has been one for the books. Since arriving to Toronto, I’ve set out on a whirlwind of adventures from entering the mist of the Niagara Falls to exploring the halls of Casa Loma. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a Toronto FC game, a Blue Jays game, and Ripley’s Aquarium. Although these adventures have been exceptional, volunteering for the Parapan American games was the main attraction. My role is to be a host for the officials, meaning getting them towels, making sure they had plenty of snacks and getting them anything they needed. I enjoy my role because taking care of the referees allows me to set courtside for all the games!

     One adventure that was super fantastic was my exploration of Casa Loma. Casa Loma was built in 1911 for Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife Mary Pellatt. When I visited this mansion, one significant part of the tour was venturing through the 800 ft. tunnel to reach the stable and garage where cars were displayed. This tunnel was dark, cold and eerie. I would never go back through tunnel. Another eventful part of the Casa Loma tour was going the top of the tower, which was the highest point in the mansion. The adventure to the top was rough due the narrow, frail stairway that was two ways apparently. After constant pushing and shoving we made it to the top and the view was totally worth it! One of best views I’ve seen!

     Alongside Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby is another sport at the 2015 Parapan Am games. Wheelchair Rugby was created in Winnipeg in 1977 when a group of athletes—that were quadriplegic—wanted an alternative basketball. Men and women work together on the same team to advance the ball past the opponent’s goal. This can be done by passing, carrying or dribbling the ball to obtain the most goals. A goal is considered having possession of the ball as well as two wheels touching the goal line. Wheelchair Rugby athletes are categorized based on the classification of their physical impairments. This classification ranges from 0.5 to 3.5 points, with 0.5 expressing a more limitations. To keep the game fair, both team’s four players points cannot be more than 8 total.

     I’m sad my time in the 6 is coming to an end!

--Jordyn Underwood

Niagara Falls

Casa Loma

A view of Toronto from the top of Casa Loma

Being a Field of Play Volunteer

August 13, 2015

     Here in Toronto we have gone on some very exciting excursions but in this blog I would like to talk about my experience as a field of play volunteer. As a field of play volunteer I am either stationed at the training court or the competition court. On the training court there are two teams practicing at a time. As a field of play volunteer I am responsible for supplying clean towels, water, and powerade to the teams that are practicing. I get to sit by the curtain dividing the teams that are practicing and make sure the basketballs don’t cross over to the other side. On the training court I enjoy watching the teams practice and the different drills they do. It’s interesting to watch how teams from other countries interact with each other.

            On the competition court I get to sit behind the basket and sweep the court during time outs and between quarters. I really enjoy working on the competition court because I get a perfect seat for the game! Being on the competition court is exciting because you get to watch the players interact with each other and their coaches during the game. My favorite part about working with the field of play is getting to watch the teams transition from practice to competition.  I’ve had the opportunity to personally watch the teams on their journey here at the Parapan Am Games and I am very thankful for this opportunity!

--Lily Simmons

Dinosaurs and Rome--it is not all Games!

August 13, 2015

Hello from Toronto! On our trip here in Toronto we have been lucky enough to stay at Victoria University in the University of Toronto, which is located down the street from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Because of it’s convenient location we have been able to visit the ROM twice. The first time we visited the ROM we got to see some very interesting and diverse galleries. My favorite galleries were the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of the Dinosaurs and the Eaton Gallery of Rome. At the dinosaur gallery we got to see a wide variety of fossils including fossils of dinosaurs and aquatic life.  The fossils represented the actual size of the dinosaurs and I liked being able to compare the different types of dinosaurs represented. At the Rome gallery there were many different types of sculptures and traditional Roman dishes and coins.  I enjoyed reading about each sculpture and what type of Roman citizen they represented.

The second time we went to ROM we went specifically to the Pompeii exhibit. The exhibit shared a descriptive history of Pompeii and the volcano Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the city. The exhibit had representations of statues and artifacts found in Pompeii. There were also paintings that depicted traditional life in Pompeii. I really enjoyed this exhibit and was very excited that it was at the ROM while we were here in Toronto! 

--Lily Simmons

Dinosaurs at the Royal Ontario Museum

Roman statue


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Memories from Toronto

August 12, 2015

          Greetings from Toronto! There is only a few days remaining in the Parapan Am Games! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. While I am enjoying my position with Wheelchair Basketball, there are other sports I wish I could also spectate while I am here. For instance, Table Tennis would be an interesting event to watch in the ParaPan Am games.

Para-table tennis has been an event since the first Paralympic games in 1960. Para-table tennis is very similar to regular table tennis in which players must hit the ball over the net and into their opponent’s side. However, since table tennis is open to athletes with physical impairments, players can be either standing or sitting. Games are played in best sets of 3,4 or 5 and scored to 11 points.

There are two classification categories for para-table tennis – Physical impairment and intellectual impairment as well as two sport classes: sitting and standing classes. I think this would be an interesting sport to watch since table tennis can get pretty intense as it is. Forest Gump said it best when he said he loved playing ping-pong with his Flexolite ping-pong paddle.

(Sources: Toronto 2015 Table
Tennis ) 

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

          I am very sad to be leaving Toronto in a few days. I have become very much in love with the city and all the people I have met and become close with. Some of my favorite memories have been going to a Blue Jays game, taking a boat ride into Niagara Falls, exploring the neighborhoods Kensington Market & Greek Town, and going to Ripley’s Aquarium and the Royal Ontario Museum. I am very excited to end this international experience with the Edge Walk on the CN Tower, pretending to be a princess at Casa Loma, and sailing on Lake Ontario for dinner. Though my time in Toronto has an inevitable expiration date, I know I will be back soon to continue to make memories that last a lifetime.

-Brittany Mebust

Ms. Mebust at Niagara Falls

At work: Ms. Ueberschlag and Ms. Mebust

Scooting around: Ms. Keeling

Enjoying the Toronto Blue Jays game: Ms. Rabalais and Ms. Mebust

Synchronized sweeping: Hard-working Cards at the Games

Prof. Moorman proudly showing more pins

On the big screen: Ms. Peterson and Ms. Simmons

Prof. Presley and volunteers at the Para Pan Am Games

Night at the Museum: "Us when we get home every night"

Enjoying Toronto: Ms. Legenza, Ms. Moore, and Ms. Keeling

That's the spirit: Mr. King playing basketball with a young learner

Faculty fun! Team leaders Presley, Ledford, Gibb, and Moorman

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Swimming at the ParaPan Games

August 11, 2015

Swimming has been a sport offered at the Parapan Am Games since they began in 1999. Swimming is a timed sport where the first athlete or relay team to touch the touch pad at the end of their last lap wins. Swimming consists of different technical strokes used during each race including the breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle. Events in swimming may involve only one of these techniques or a combination of all four called a medley. This can be done as an individual medley or as relay using a team of four swimmers. In the Parapan Am Games athletes are classified based on physical, visual, and intellectual impairments. The names of the sport class consist of a prefix and a number. The prefix S stands for freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke events. The prefix SB stands for breaststroke events and the prefix SM stands for individual medley. The sport classes are numbered from one to ten for physical impairments. Athletes complete a water assessment and a classifier uses a point system to determine their sport class. Athletes are classified based on the impact the impairment specifically has on swimming and their degree of ability to complete each stroke. The lower the number the more the activity is limited due to impairment. In these classes the swimmers may begin in the water or standing or sitting on the starting platform. Sport classes eleven through thirteen are used for athletes with visual impairments. Class eleven swimmers have little or no vision, class twelve have some ability to see including identifying the shape of a hand, and class thirteen have the greatest degree of vision but still below twenty degrees. All swimmers in these three classes wear blackened goggles to ensure fairness among competitors. A tapper may be used in these classes to notify swimmers when they are approaching the end of the lane by using a long stick to tap them. Sport class fourteen is for swimmers that have an intellectual impairment. These athletes may have a slower reaction time or difficulty with pattern sequencing which typically leads them to have a higher number of strokes relative to their speed.

            So far my favorite part of this trip has been the many cultural experiences we have had. Not only have we experienced the Canadian culture but we have also encountered a variety of cultures while we are working our shifts at the wheelchair basketball games. In Toronto we’ve had the chance to try poutine, which is a traditional Canadian dish that originated in Quebec. It consists of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. We also had the chance to visit China town and Greek town. In China town we were able to walk around the small shops that sell clothes, jewelry, and Chinese food. In Greek town we had the chance to go to the Taste of the Danforth, which is a street festival. The whole street was closed off and vendors sold food, jewelry, and clothes. There were other activities including a stage with music and dancing. At the games we have had the chance to interact with athletes and coaches from a variety of different countries. Today during our evening shift we worked the Canada vs. Brazil women’s game, the Canada vs. Argentina men’s game, and the Venezuela vs. Mexico men’s game. For the rest of our trip I look forward to exploring even more about the Canadian culture and things Toronto has to offer including visiting some of the local islands and the CN tower. I also am very excited to spend more time with the teams as we move closer to the medal games.

--Lily Simmons

In Chinatown

Greektown and the taste of Danforth

Nothing like a plate of poutine to end a 10-hour work shift: Ms. Kent, Ms. Clay, and Ms. Simmons

Card's selfie: Ms. Peterson and Ms. Simmons

Meeting US team member: Ms. Moore and Ms. Keeling

Team hug: Ms. Ueberschlag, Ms. Underwood, and Ms. Peterson

Eating at Puck: Ms. Rabalais, Prof. Presley, Ms. Mebust, Ms. Ueberschlag, Ms. Underwood, and Ms. Peterson

CEHD Prof. Moorman sharing a happy moment with Pachi, the Games mascot

Not part of the Games--luckily.  At the museum in Toronto

Brave volunteer: Ms. Keeling and her scooter

Getting back home

"Selfie with my scoot scoot"

Monday, August 10, 2015

Halfway and Wheelchair Basketball

August 10, 2015

     Greetings from Toronto! We have hit the halfway point through the trip, and I must say the time is flying by. Between 8 hour shifts and off day excursions, we have packed plenty of activities into these 6 days. Luckily for me, today was an off day, and I took the opportunity to see one of the beautiful islands just off the shore of Toronto. The biggest attraction, Centre Island, has canoe and kayak rentals, as well as an amusement park, which is a popular children’s attraction. It’s placed between two smaller beaches, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. We chose to visit Ward’s Island, just a short ferry ride away from downtown. It was filled with small cottages, quaint beaches, and the tasty Island Café.

      We walked along the paths until we found the beach, which was a little cool. Even though the water was too cold to swim in, we still skipped rocks and walked along the shores until it was time for lunch. That is when we discovered the little café toward the front of the island, with outdoor seating and eclectic decorations. The food was delicious, and I especially appreciated the hot sauce (made in house of course!). Even though the rain prohibited us from exploring the island further, this was the perfect way to spend a relaxing day off of work.

     While I’m really enjoying watching wheelchair basketball, a sport being played in the Parapan Am games that would be fun to watch is sitting volleyball. The premise of this sport is similar to volleyball in that players hit the ball over the net to land on the other team’s side of the court. The difference is in the nets being only a little over a meter off the ground for men and women, and players must keep one buttocks on the court when handling the ball. This is the debut of women’s sitting volleyball, which is very exciting for the games. I’m hoping to catch some of the action on television!

     Thanks for keeping up with the CARDS TO2015 crew!

--Becky Legenza

At Ward's Island

Ready for lunch

Ms. Legenza trying the waters at Lake Ontario

Toronto's skyline from Ward's Island, on Lake Ontario: Ms. Moore, Ms. Keeling (scooter not pictured), Mr. Nugent, and Ms. Legenza

On Ward's Island

August 10, 2015

Today was my second day off for our time here. Courtney, Becky, Garrett, and I went to Ward’s Island. Ward’s Island is an island off of Canada’s mainland right off of downtown, on Lake Ontario. We took a subway to the streetcar and the streetcar to the ferry. All in all it took about 20 minutes to get to the ferry and the ferry ride was no more than 10 minutes. It was quick and easy and the ride over to the island was a gorgeous view of the skyline of downtown Toronto.

            Once we get over to the island we headed straight back and decided we wanted to “get lost”. As soon as we got a few yards off the ferry, we found the beach and were ecstatic.  The only downfall to today was the weather. There was an overcast, which we all decided we would rather have than it is very sunny. But being on a beach on an island during an overcast day was a little chilly (especially the ferry ride over). We played on the beach and took a lot of pictures. We all tried to skip rocks and see who could go the farthest.

            The island was very quaint and quiet. There were not many people and very few kids. It was very nice to get a day of just pure relaxation.

            After the beach we headed to the only restaurant on the island called Island Café. It was a cute little outdoor restaurant right on the water. We all ordered burgers. The food was AMAZING. We spent some time talking to the locals and enjoying the beauty of the island. When we were almost done with lunch, it started to rain. Luckily the ferry was going to pick us up in 20 minutes so we were able to leave before we got too wet.

            We decided that our trip to the island was the best part of the trip thus far. It was so nice to get away from the city for a few hours and enjoy the city from the relaxing island.

--Aubrey Moore

Riding Toronto's streetcar

Mr. Nugent, Ms. Moore, Ms. Kent, Mrs. Gibb, and Mr. King meeting Pachi, the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Para Pan American Games mascot