Nfld. & Labrador

A warm introduction to a cool, inclusive sport

A group of coaches, teachers, and community leaders became students this week as they took a shot at sledge hockey in Gander.

CBC's Julia Cook straps in for some sledge hockey

A few community leaders test out sledge hockey for the first time at the Gander Community Centre rink. (Julia Cook/CBC)

A group of coaches, teachers, and community leaders became students this week as they took a shot at sledge hockey and other inclusive sports.

"This is my first attempt," said Barry Hicks, who's involved with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and other community sports organizations.

"Very good upper body workout, for sure. Takes some time to develop skills, of course, but as an inclusive activity for children, awesome."

Very good upper body workout ... as an inclusive activity for children, awesome.- Barry Hicks, English School District

Recreation NL teamed up with Parasport NL and Easter Seals to offer an information session in Gander. The groups wanted to introduce people to inclusive sports, in the hope that more will participate.

"Just trying to expose people to all the potential and the opportunities, whether it's a winter sport or a summer sport," said Margaret Tibbo, president of Parasport NL.

Hitting the ice

Sledge hockey is designed for people with physical disabilities who can't normally play hockey. But it can be played by anyone. People are strapped into an ice sled and use two shortened hockey sticks with picks on the ends to propel themselves forward and pass the puck.

Our reporter Julia Cook hit the ice, too. (Submitted)

I had the chance to put on a helmet and try out sledge hockey. 

Propelling myself forward with the two modified hockey sticks was pretty simple. Stopping proved to be a bit trickier. The opportunity gave me a better appreciation for the sports and the dedication it takes to play it.

In the afternoon, there was a chance to try bocce ball. Bartlett said it would be great if people with disabilities had more sports they could take part in.

"We want to bring [the sports] to more people and we can do that through school loans, through community loans," said Eileen Bartlett, director of programs with Easter Seals NL.

Easter Seals has ice sleds that communities can borrow, and there is also funding available through that group and Recreation NL for communities to buy their own equipment.

'If we can get the seed planted here today and let it grow ... where can the program go?- Eileen Bartlett, Easter Seals NL

If an athlete is interested in pursuing the sport, Bartlett said there are resources for that, too.

"If we can get the seed planted here today and let it grow and flourish and more people in sledges, where can the program go?"

A similar information session was also offered in Grand Falls-Windsor.

About the Author

Julia Cook

Journalist

Julia Cook reports from CBC's bureau in Gander, primarily for the Central Morning Show.

With files from the Central Morning Show

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