From all across the Santa Clarita Valley, athletes, families and friends came together to take part in the annual Wheelchair Festival, put on by the Triumph Foundation
“It’s big for inclusion, we want everyone to be included and no one to be left out, and everyone to have a fun, good time,so it breaks down the barriers,” told Kirsten Skinner, president and co-founder of the Triumph Foundation.
Throughout the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, Aquatic Center and Skate Park, participants could join in a wide variety of activities ranging from basketball to scuba diving.
“First, before we take them under water we acclimate them, getting used to the mask, equalizing, what it’s like breathing with the regulator, and talk about who is going to be doing what, explained Ricki Sanchez, Diveheart Scuba Instructor. “The main thing is that we want everyone to have fun and get comfortable in the water.”
Participants were able to gear up, go into the water, where they would then be able to swim down thirteen feet in the end of the pool.
“It gives them a total sense of independence… but every single time, we find that it completely lifts up their spirits. Everyone I’ve talked to that go through a traumatic experience goes through a time of depression and a lot of people who dive with us say they got out of it when they found us and found scuba diving, because its zero gravity underwater and there’s no weight on your body, it’s the only time that some of them really don’t feel pain,”explained Sanchez.
Over the weekend, the Triumph Foundation hope to see around 1000 people come through the event.
“This is our biggest event where we have all the sports in one place for everyone to try, it’s not just for the wheelchair users, its the families, the friends and community, so everyone can play together under one roof,” told Skinner. “It’s a little different for people who aren’t in the wheelchair community, so we try to break down those barriers, so everyone can participate, but you don’t have to be the best, and to just have fun.”