For Dave Ruckman of the Nanaimo Blind Bowls, Canada’s largest visually impaired bowling club, the sport should be all about inclusivity.
He said that’s why having a lawn bowling club for people with visual impairments is especially important, and why the one that meets up in Qualicum Beach fills a vital gap in the community. Ruckman said he loves the diversity of the club — there’s LGBTQ2 and Indigenous members, and bowlers have a spectrum of visual impairments.
The club is part of the Nanaimo Lawn Bowling club, and have been since 1983, but they often meet in Qualicum Beach’s indoor facility. Members are from around Nanaimo, as well as the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“You can understand that people who are blind, their ability to get out and around is often impeded, so they have a social event,” he said. “We had no trouble getting a group together, to get out and do this.”
The club is made up of people with varying degrees of visual impairment — from the B1 category of bowlers who are completely blind, to the B4 category — where bowlers have some vision. It’s a co-operative process, Ruckman said, with directors helping guide bowlers — depending on the person’s level of impairment.
While Ruckman spoke he had a plastic bag on his foot, which a bowler used as a more visible target than the end of the lane.
“It all takes about a person-and-a-half per bowler because you have a director that helps them,” he said. “It’s definitely a team effort.”
Dawn Rigg, president of the Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club, said the club also hosts modified lawn bowling events for people with mobility issues.
“We can engage so many more people to come in and once you’ve engaged them, then they start to help out and they become part of your life and your friends,” said Rigg. “This is extra special because it’s such a co-operative effort for people with disabilities.”
If people want to join, or get more information, they can call 250-618-0625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All ages and experience levels are welcome.