Stef Barber

Growing up with a disability you long to find that certain thing or someone to shape your life. Starting at a young age I got involved with swimming and horseback riding for therapy. I was a natural!

But it wouldn’t come till the age of 12, that I really became aware of the Paralympic Movement. I become involved with wheelchair sports (along with competitive swimming and horseback riding).

My life changed when I discovered the new horizon of opportunities that could come my way if I chose to work hard and dream big!  It was shaped starting from that point in, with the introduction of Rick Hansen at the age of 9. (

Rick’s dream through out his Man in Motion World tour (March 1985- May 1987), was to create awareness of wheelchair sports and the potential of people with disabilities (among creating an accessible & inclusive world and finding a cure for spinal cord injuries).

It has been through Rick’s words and messages that at the age of 16, that I was inspired to give a try at wheelchair racing (athletics) and set my ultimate goal……one day representing Canada at the Paralympics.

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Since 1999, I have had the honour of representing BC at the 1999/2003 Western Canada Summer Games and 2001/2009 Canada Summer Games. Other opportunities that I have had through athletics have been able to train in Warm Spring Georgia with the National Team, Athletics Canadian Championships, and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Canadian trials, for the Worlds.

Through life changes, I took a break from athletics in 2004-2008, switching over to basketball for a couple of seasons. I had the opportunity to learn what it was like to compete in a team sport, playing in tournaments on the mainland and at the 2004 BC Winter Games.

In 2006, I was motivated by the announcement of Vancouver/Whistler hosting the 2010 Paralympic Games that I dreamed and achieved to starting up Vancouver Island’s first wheelchair curling league. The mission of being able to bring more paralympic awareness to Vancouver Island and give others a chance to experience something new and maybe see abilities in them they never knew that they had.

Returning back to athletics in 2009, determined to keep reaching for my dream having had a breather and a chance to experience the world (post secondary, health issues, work and travelling) learning and growing as a person!

With the season upon us, I had to learn to work with a new coach and compete with a new group of fellow athletes. Setting my standards high, I accomplished my goal, by being the best I could be in every training session and competition. I left the season being one of the best Provincial Team female para- athletic athletes in Canada and the best in BC.

Life, doesn’t come without the unexpected and due to chronic health issues, I had to take the 2010 and 2011 season off. It was a year of growth emotionally and mentally, which I know will take me far in life!

Coming back and heading into the 2012 season, I’m sure of one thing! I know through all my experiences and accomplishments, I’m back stronger then ever and I’m ready to show the world who I really am! Being a successful and recognized athlete is what you have accomplished and over come on the way to your dream!

I look forward to sharing my experiences, the paralympic movement, it’s athletes with the readers of ISN!

Thank you,

Stef Barber