Cochranite Dr. David Legg has been named to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame as a multisport/paralympic builder.
A professor at Mount Royal University in the Department of Health and Physical Education, he has worked with Wheelchair Sports Alberta, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee.
He is also co-founder and co-chair of the Calgary Adapted Hub Powered by Jumpstart and is president of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity.
Dr. Legg helped create the Children’s Adapted Physical Activity (CAPA) program, a play-based physical activity program for children with disabilities, at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He's proud of the program that runs during the fall and winter semesters that matches children with impairments and his students on a one-on-one basis to spend time in both the gym and pool.
A number of his MRU students complete their practicums here at the It Takes a Village Kindergarten and Educational Society, which has several children with impairments and special needs.
Legg says receiving the award has allowed him to reflect on the importance of some truly generous people in his life. He says he's been able to stand on the shoulders of giants of the athletes of the 70s and 80s and on those of his mentors.
"I have been really lucky that I've had some really strong mentors that have guided me, they're benevolent, generous with their time, not wanting anything in return other than to just maybe forward because perhaps they had the same opportunity when they were younger. I think now that's becoming more and more clear to me that that's what I'm hoping I can do moving forward and pay it forward to others because I've certainly benefited from those who've come before me."
His father had a physical impairment and he hadn't really connected that with the path he took until enrolling in a course on adaptive physical activity in the third year of his physical education degree at McMaster University.
"I really had never given any thought to how those two things could be connected until that class, and so it just opened up my eyes to a system and a world that was out there, but I just hadn't noticed it before."
That led to volunteering, which lead to different jobs with wheelchair sports in Ontario and ultimately starting him on his path of pursuing his PhD at the University of Alberta in 1993. There he was supervised and mentored by Professor Robert Steadward, the founding president of the International Paralympic Committee in 1989.
"I had the chance to go to paralympic games as his assistant in 1996 in Atlanta, and again that just opened up a whole world that I didn't know too much about. That led to board positions with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, ultimately becoming president, a faculty position at Mount Royal, teaching adaptive physical activity here, and creating grassroots programs in the Calgary area."
He says you can trace it all back to his dad and mom, a highly-active volunteer pushing the idea of community service.
Noting his bias, Dr. Legg says he would argue sport and recreation is the strongest and best conduit by which to include individuals with disabilities in society. He points to the impact of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope and Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour.
"It was through sport, it was through demonstrating prowess as an athlete that allowed people to understand the capabilities of individuals with disabilities, and you can say the same from the Special Olympics perspective for individuals with intellectual disabilities."
He believes sport provides the path by which people can see that people with disabilities should be included in the larger spectrum of society.
That connection includes spectators, like his dad, who had multiple sclerosis.
"I think of my dad and his inclusion within society, and it wasn't him as an athlete, but he was a sport supporter. That's how he connected with me, that's how he connected with his friends. often was watching sports and cheering on sports, so through sport physical activity he was included in his community."
Dr. Legg has resided in Cochrane since 2010.