Wheelchair basketball court installation draws in Nuit Blanche Winnipeg attendees

Pop-up basketball court shows off accessible athleticism

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Allez Hop!, a pop-up ’90s themed accessible glow-in-the-dark basketball court was stationed on Market Avenue during Nuit Blanche Winnipeg.

The installation had a mix of three-on-three games and open court wheelchair basketball, featuring Manitoba Wheelchair Sport Association youth players, ’90s hip-hop tunes and glowing paint.

Spectators circled the court, some joining in on the sport’s action, trying out wheelchairs for the first time.

Event organizers Thea Pedersen and Sasha Amaya hosted the installation as part of a Winnipeg Arts Council’s Youth With Art project in conjunction with the Manitoba Wheelchair Sport Association.

“This is a longer-term project where we’re working with the athletes, in addition to that we were really inspired working with them thinking about what sport means, what the connections between sport and art are, what accessibility is,” said Amaya.

Pedersen said she and Amaya organized Allez Hop! to draw attention to how accessibility and athleticism can go hand in hand.

“Awareness is a huge part of it, the idea that sport can be so accessible, and art can also be very accessible, so that’s something that we’re excited to just see the marriage between,” she said.

Pedersen hopes Allez Hop! will help wheelchair basketball grow in popularity within Winnipeg.

“It is a small group of people that are focused in it right now, but I think that with this type of exposure it can just keep getting bigger and better,” she said.

Wheelchair basketball is played by more than just full-time wheelchair users.

“One thing that’s been really important to us with this and with our open court sessions is to show that anyone can try the chairs out […] It doesn’t have to be just if you’re in a wheelchair, you play wheelchair basketball,” said Amaya.

Pedersen and Amaya also created the installation to draw attention to the need for more public outdoor community spaces for those who may not be able to afford access to indoor spaces.

Amaya said she hoped the event would encourage people to get out and enjoy themselves.

“We hope that people will begin to think more about the many types of sport there are out there, but also about opportunities to create more permanent urban spaces for all people to be outside.”