Interview with Suzanna Tangen from Ultimate Para Sports Association

  • Interviews
  • Published on April 9

Suzanna, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview and sharing with us more information about Ultimate Para Sports Association.

  • Can you share with us your personal journey in sports and how it led you to your current role as Executive Director f Ultimate Para Sports Association?

 I've always liked to be active and move, I studied sports sciences, skied, swam, and climbed, but was never involved in much organized sports before I moved to Calgary in 2015. I first got involved with Ultimate Para Sports on a volunteer basis, and saw first-hand the benefits of organized sports, the sense of belongingness, social interaction, peer learning amongst many other benefits. I am fortunate to have been able to get involved more, start up programs and see the organization grow.

  • In what ways do you ensure that the sports programs and activities provided by Ultimate Para Sports Association are inclusive and accessible to individuals with different types of disabilities?

UPSA started out as a wheelchair racing club for over 35 years ago. We offered programming primarily for wheelchair users for many years, but are now expanding into different types of disability groups, like neurodivergence, CP and others. It requires thorough volunteer and staff training, specialized adapted equipment and creative approaches for instruction and coaching.

  • Could you describe a particularly impactful moment or success story that you've experienced while managing Ultimate Para Sports?

We are having great success with our Learn2Ride – Junior Adapted Cycling program. From having one participant the fall of 2017 to accommodating 40+ children every season (indoor and outdoor) has been incredible.

  • What role do you believe sports play in empowering individuals with disabilities and fostering a sense of community and belonging?

I would argue that sport plays an even more important role in the lives of people with disabilities compared to their able-bodied peers. Sport provides an ideal venue to increase self-esteem, provide social training, improve mental health, better body image, all areas where people with disabilities often are significantly challenged.

  • Can you share any initiatives or programs your association has implemented to address specific needs or interests within the disability community?

We have continuously worked hard to improve recruitment to sport in the province of Alberta. We see robust and good programming, but limited marketing and outreach, the message is not getting out to persons with disabilities. There are many barriers to participation for people with disabilities, we need innovative approaches for recruitment to succeed. We are excited to partner with CAH and Sport Calgary for the upcoming All Sports One Day at Vecova in August this year!

  • Please share with us all the programs Ultimate Para Sports offer, who can participate and how people can reach out for more information.

Recreational Para Cycling – Summer

Para Cycling Tours – Summer

Junior Adapted Cycling, Learn2Ride – Winter&Summer

Virtual Para Cycling Spin – Winter

Adapted Nordic Skiing (Neuro, Sitskis, Juniors) – Winter

Guided Meditation Group – All year

Wheelchair Racing Support – All year

Alpine Skiing Support – All year


Please reach out for any questions, registrations or how to get involved:


Phone: 403 909 6576


Instagram: @ultimateparasports