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Paralympian looking to inspire kids

Jessica Ireland | Interrobang | News | January 11th, 2010

Growing up in a wheelchair can be rough for kids when their classmates don't understand — it can make them feel different.

Paralympian Bradley Bowden, remembers this feeling.

While he says he was “picked on like any able-bodied kid” and not because of his disability, he still had moments of insecurity.

“When I was younger, I had confidence issues,” he said.

Bradley BowdenWhether it was wishing he was taller, or could “be like the other kids” this alternate captain of the 2010 paralympic sledge hockey team had his moments.

But these moments led to Bowden lending his voice to the introduction Kids of Courage, an e-book written by Canadian author and educator Cynthia Pratt Nicolson and sponsored by Pfizer Canada, with the cover art by Canadian mouth-painter Susie Matthias.

The free e-book follows the story of two kids who overcame their own personal challenges to reach their dreams. The stories include one girl who got into skiing despite being visually impaired, and a boy who teaches his class about his favourite sport, sledge hockey.

The characters' relationships with their respective sports and how those sports helped them develop confidence are much like Bowden's own story.

Raised by his grandparents, he was encouraged to get involved in sports at an early age and tried out for the national sledge hockey team at 16 years old. They had to bend the rules to allow him to play.

While he started out as any other rookie, he quickly increased his playing time by simple hard work, he said.

He has faced his share of adversity, such as nearly losing his thumb durng a game in 2002 but they've made his big moments even sweeter — like scoring the winning goal during the 2006 games, securing him and his team one of the multiple gold medals his achieved.

“I'm lucky that I'm skilled in the sport to get to this level,” he said, adding that he feels like he's part of the pioneers of sledge hockey.

Bowden's looking forward to this year's Paralympics and naturally has his sights set on a gold medal game again. Despite the dangers of the sport — metal sticks with picks on the end used to propel the player around the ice and yes, there's checking — he loves it, he said.

He hopes that through his own experiences and the e-book, others will feel inspired to beyond their own obstacles as well.

“There's not much like this out there, it's cool to be a part of it,” he said. “Kids will like it and it will open up a lot of eyes.”

The free e-book can be downloaded at

Kids of Courage
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