Visually impaired N.L. kids try out skating, hockey
A group of visually impaired kids, some of whom had never before been on skates, took part in a skating and hockey workshop at Twin Rinks in St. John's on Wednesday.
Mark DeMontis, who is legally blind, founded the organization in 2008. He was diagnosed with Leber's optic neuropathy 10 years ago, cutting short a hockey career due to failing eyesight.
DeMontis said he founded the group so that blind or visually impaired youth could have the same opportunities to learn to skate and play hockey that he did.
"Just because of their visual impairment doesn't mean they can't participate in sports and really achieve anything that they want in life," he said.
"I mean, skating and hockey is so big in Canada — and every kid deserves a chance to do it."
Zachary Harris was a workshop participant, and said he has skated before.
Courage Canada hopes to set up more permanent programs in partnership with local organizations.
"It's our first program here in St. John's. I can tell you it won't be our last," DeMontis said. .
Parent Robert Stringer, whose son — Devon — got to skate on Wednesday, loves the idea of having access to a program like Courage Canada's.
"You know, he has his barriers, I suppose. But the whole idea is as an experience and something different. And if he likes it, maybe make it something regular," said Stringer.
DeMontis said he hopes blind hockey will one day be an Olympic sport, in which Canada will dominate.