Play Beyond Expectations

"Helping People with Disabilities Make life Better"

Blog posts : "General"

invitation to share

Please share your wins, tricks, and questions

I just want to invite people to share how they've overcome their challenges and little tricks that they are doing to keep their independence or get independence.

please share your stories.  just email me as [email protected].    

I also want to start a series on the qualities that one has to have in their environment in order to discover their gifts and develop them.



We're looking for blog submissions! Please email how you've overcome challenges and little tricks for keeping or getting independence to Brian at [email protected]


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Play Beyond Expectations” gives people with disabilities the chance to surpass perceived limitations

by Lane Chevrier.


Play Beyond Expectations is a community activity group that focuses on uncovering the latent strength of people with disabilities while providing physical exercise and socialization. Participants are encouraged to try physical activities such as pickleball and hockey in an environment that adapts to limitations and provides encouragement.

 Founder Brian Gray is a development coach who came up with the idea of challenging the assumptions that can hold people with disabilities back, which often focus on the person’s lack of ability rather than their strengths.

“Play Beyond Expectations reflects the experience of the individuals that come, because every session, every client does things that either they didn’t expect, or the parents or support workers didn’t expect,” he says.

Gray says that the program is about uncovering a new realm of possibilities not only for the client, but also the caregivers. He encourages them to create activity plans that allow for personal growth, rather than stagnation.

“One of the focuses in the program is to get the parents and the support workers to see the person differently. It’s designed to give that client the best chance to succeed, and everybody else the best chance to see it,” he says. “If the staff make assumptions about what the person can or cannot do, and set up their program accordingly, then the person is never given a chance to exceed anybody’s expectations.”

Gray says that the key to positive development is the recognition of progress and achievement, no matter how small.

“The goal for every session is for every client to be affirmed in what their progress was in that session,” he says. “I think it’s really important because sometimes the steps forward are really small, but I think if the affirmation is there, and if it’s an enthusiastic affirmation, that really helps sustain the effort to keep on going and discovering what they can do.”

Trying new things is difficult, but Gray says that the crucial thing is for participants to push forward and allow their brain and body to adapt and develop new skills.

“They come in and they’re afraid they’re going to fail, but first of all, the important thing is to try and make the effort, and then be patient and keep trying,” he says. “I have a phrase: Give your brain a chance.”

Adapting to adult life can be difficult for some people with disabilities, because if they’re not skilled at advocating for themselves, they may not be able to access adequate support to help them reach their full potential. Gray says that his program focuses on finding people who have slipped through the cracks and giving them a chance to succeed.

“This program is looking at pulling them out of the crevasse and setting them up on the next level of being able to try and get a better quality of life,” he says. “The thing is, when you get that celebration and you get the endorphins going and everything, it just cycles, and there’s that old phrase, ‘nothing succeeds like success,’ and suddenly you’re more energized to try the next step, and we just keep building.”

Gray says that peer acceptance and the push to reach new heights can lead to unexpected success.

“You’re in an environment where it’s okay to be you,” he says. “The program is totally focused on development. Simple things can lead to big things.”

Sessions run on Tuesday 3:30-5 pm and 7:30-8:30pm, and Friday 1:30-3 pm, at Esquimalt Recreation Centre. Entrance fee is $5.75 per session, and parents and caregivers attend for free.  Participants may also bring a friend for free.  Phone Brian for information 250-857-4017, or for volunteer opportunities.

Register at:

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By Sandra Dixon

 When I was young about 7 or 8 I felt there were 3 things wrong with me. One, I was a girl. Two, I was a blonde girl. When, girls were thought to be the weaker sex. Blondes were thought to be ditzy, dumb or not all there.

 As I got older I sometimes used I was dumb to my advantage, so the boys would stop bugging me.  Sometimes I hated being a girl because of the monthly thing only girls went through. But the 3rd thing was being a disabled blonde girl.

Being a disabled person was and is the hardest thing to deal with. When I was a teen, I was very shy, I walked around school with my head down and kept to myself.

 February, is Black history month and as I got older, I started thinking about disabled people before me and how hard it must have been for them especially for women of colour. Being a disabled blonde girl was nothing compared to what they went through just because of colour of their skin.

 Yes, I was a girl. Now I am a woman, that gave birth to a child that loves me. Sometimes he doesn’t love me that much. But that’s okay. I was blonde, now I’m going gray. I play dumb or act ditzy sometimes because it’s fun and I love it. I know people that are not blonde that still say and do dumb things.

 Being disabled is still hard, trying to get people to listen to me and take me seriously is still the biggest thing. In my life I have found caring and loving people. Now, I don’t CARE what other people think of me anymore. I am woman and I don’t think you want to hear me roar.

I wrote this mid February 2020.

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WHY IS “2 PADS” BETTER THAN 5G FOR CONNECTING COMMUNITIES AND NEIGHBOURHOODS?    Because 2 pads (of sidewalk) has nothing to do with technology and can be done in every neighbourhood right now.   

SAFE DISTANCING STILL CONNECTING   The idea is simple.      Go out in front of your house and draw a circle or a square or an oval about 3 feet by 6 feet on the street.   You can use sidewalk chalk.  It should go from the curb 6 feet out and then 3-4 feet across and back to the curb.  Then start another safe zone at least 6 feet along the curb from the first one.  The simple way is to look at the sidewalk that is divided by crosslines.   Each “pad” is 4-5 feet long.  If you have 2 pads between each safe zone then you are more than 6 feet apart and yet can talk easily to someone else.

If the neighbour across the street does the same on their side then you can connect while maintaining a safe distance.    Most streets are wider than 18 feet.   If people are going by on the sidewalk (and there are no cars coming) then go to your “outer dimension” (towards the middle of the road) while they pass by.

How many things can you do in your circle, rectangle, square, or oval?   Meet a neighbour for at a specified time, (note in mailboxes, emails, phone calls) with you each in your own spot.  

Okay! How creative can you be?  Coffee and stretches, yoga, sing along?  Any musicians on the block?  Any good jokes?   Anyone need help with something?    How are the seniors on your block?  

You can do at least 3 or 4 safe zones in the width of the average yard.  Then a friend passing by (or a neighbour you haven’t met yet) can join the conversation.

What about apartment buildings and condos?  You can figure it out for each location but a simple guideline is 1 parking spot between people side by side and a car length between you and the person opposite you.   Bring a chair and enjoy.  If you have to get up and down for the occasional car moving, just count it as part of your exercise.

Stay safe and connected.

Brian Gray, Originator Play Beyond Expectations   

A Esquimalt Recreation Centre gym-based program for Young Adults to learn basic sports skills and prove, or improve, their functional capabilities in other areas.   We will re-start when the Centre re-opens.  Check our website for updates.

Play Beyond

Brian Gray   Helping People with Disabilities Make Life Better   [email protected]

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Blowing out the virus germs at home

In my experience, 42 years here in Victoria, BC.,  68 degrees in fresh air feels warmer than 72 degrees in stale air.  Fresh air has more oxygen and moisture and less of everyone’s breath.  Even when the kids were young I would get up before the rest of the family, start the furnace, put on my parka, open the doors and windows, and let the winter wind blow through.  Then I would close everything up and when the rest of the family got up, the air had a warm, fresh quality to it.  Then I would turn the furnace off.  The rooms would remain comfortable for 3-4 hours.   Is this more expensive? No.  An expensive way to heat is to leave it on all the time, coming on every time the room temperature drops a degree (and redistributing germs to every room).   My heating costs have always been much less than the projected costs for a house my size.   

For years, no one in our house would have a cold for more than a day or so, partly because we were all physically very active, but also because by letting the fresh air in, we flushed the germs out.  Unfortunately, I am now less active, and more lazy.  But I still let the fresh air in sometimes.  If I’m tired, depressed or just a little down, refreshing my space helps.

Let me give you the story behind the story.   My grandfather had a gas station in Wilkie, Saskatchewan.   In the morning, he would open up the big bay doors, front and back – all 5 of them.  He would start his oil heater on the office.   Then he would start to close the doors and soon the whole garage would be warm.  It worked even when it was -40 degrees outside.   The little heater kept the place warm all day.

This works well in any situation, whether it is single family, group home, or seniors residence.   The usual problem with bed-ridden people is that they don’t get enough fresh air.   I’ve worked in all forms of care and yes, it is much easier to bring the fresh air in than take all the residents out.

I work with a lot of young adults with disabilities in a gym-based program (Play Beyond Expectations).This is written out of concern for them, and for anyone who may be suddenly house bound more than usual.

So try exchanging some old stale air (with germs?) for some fresh air, without the germs.You will feel better.You have the freedom to keep doing this after the coronavirus is gone.

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What Is A Disability

           A young Canadian, living in Canada is in his 20`s, comes into the gym, and he has never held hockey stick.
How not included is that? Is it rare? For people with disabilities it is way too common.

Here is what we see:

97% of students with disabilities are never included in activities in school.  They are in the building but, not in the game.

69% of employers only hire people who are already employed, or who play a sport for someone they know. 
It’s a lot tougher if you don’t get a chance to overcome their assumptions. 

            If you have never had a job, how is an employer supposed to know what you can do. 
Yet the employers that hire persons with disabilities are finding unexpected benefits. 
A Tim Hortons franchisee in Ontario found that his staff turnover dropped 30% because other staff also found it a more accepting work environment. 
           As a job coach, I know that many people at employment agencies couldn’t help clients who were deemed to be not employment ready.   
In Victoria there is no development workshop to assess and teach functional skills to transition to the regular workplace.   
Until now.

Objectives of Play Beyond Expectations

            The focus of this program is building employment and life skills through developing the foundation skills to play sports in the community.  We help them succeed. 
This program will help you prove what you can do and you have fun learning as well.

            The success in the gym leads to trying more things and discovering what each individual can do. 
That success also helps encourage them to try to improve in other areas like speech and social skills.

Existing solution

At Play Beyond Expectations has been going officially since January 2017.

  1. This is a flexible program for young adults with disabilities held twice a week in the gym at the Esquimalt recreation Centre. If you have never been employed, this program can help you.   If you have never learned any sport or want to improve your skills, this program is for you.  
  2. The participants who have been coming regularly, keep coming because they are having fun and seeing progress in themselves every session. Note: their parents/caregivers are also having fun, as well as being surprised by the progress of their own child/client.

There is a drop-in fee but if you have a Recreation pass it is free

The pilot project is for people who are age 17-29, able to stand, with some disability such as cerebral palsy, mild developmental delay, or autism.

Comments from a parent

It provides a unique opportunity to learn the skills in a safe and intelligently structured program that is tailored to each individual’s ability and interest.

           What was it like before you started coming to Play Beyond Expectations?     When M started he was afraid of the ball and had no idea how to catch it. He was afraid to go in the room, had no concept of games, or how to hold a stick, or shoot a ball.  We started at ground zero.

            Another caregiver said that she had tried to get her client into different community programs but they wouldn’t take him.

Play Beyond Expectations


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