Accessibility at the Core of Equality

Leevi Ketola and Zaide-Marie Launis have been dancing together since 2012

Accessible Hobby Opportunities Make Tampere an Equal Capital of Culture

Disabled sports or parasports are doing well in Tampere Region. The local wheelchair dancing association, Pirkanmaan pyörätuolitanssijat ry, has approximately 40 active dancers in its ranks, including Leevi Ketola and Zaida-Ester Launis, holders of multiple Finnish Championships.

Now, they are setting off to Bonn, Germany to represent Tampere Region in the 2019 World Para Dance Sport Championships held on 29th November – 1st December. On November 9th, the pair is also performing along with fellow local wheelchair dancers at the Assistive Technology Fair held in Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre. Ketola and Launis are preparing for the championships with open minds.

– Our goal is to give a good performance. We don’t have any specific placement goals. Getting into the finals would be huge, the pair reveal about their championship plans.

The association trains at the Hervanta Leisure Centre, collaborating closely with the Hurmio Dance Society. Ketola and Launis find their training facility suitable, but there are also problems: There should be more accessible places for hobbies, and many of the existing places have capacity issues. There are inconvenient steps here and there, and not all premises have accessible toilets.

– Things aren’t perfect, but a lot of things have improved, even in a short time. There is always more work to be done towards a more accessible environment, both physically and socially, Ketola muses.

Equality, the chance for everyone to enjoy culture, is the main theme in Tampere and Tampere Region’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture. This theme is well represented by Pirkanmaan pyörätuolitanssijat ry, and many of us might want to learn from them.