Dad's DIY aid helps make skating more accessible

An Ottawa father has created the IceCube, a device that surrounds a child on all sides and can be pushed to glide on the ice, to help his son and others with limited mobility enjoy ice skating.

Portable 'IceCube' was invented to help boy with limited mobility

A student sits in a chair on a rink behind a wooden cube with plastic piping.
Bell High School gym teacher Michael Moloughney, right, pushes high school student Fatima, middle, behind the skating aid created by David Grimes. (Stu Mills/CBC)

An Ottawa father has created a skating aid that levels the playing field for people living with disabilities who want to hit the ice.

The "IceCube" is a four-sided box that can be configured in multiple ways, depending on the user's abilities, to help bring the thrill of skating to more people, said creator David Grimes.

Grimes began working on the project when his son Liam, who has an intellectual disability, first tried skating and struggled to keep his skates under him.

"There are so many skating aids out there — they're great, but not for Liam," said Grimes.

One skater stands on a rink in a wooden cube with plastic piping as another pushes.
Ibby Sohail guides Liam Grimes around Bell Arena with the help of an IceCube. (Stu Mills/CBC)

On one memorable outing, Liam's skates slid forward and he fell backward, striking his helmeted head on the ice and pulling his attendant down on top of him. 

That's when Grimes set to work designing a sturdier stand-up device.

WATCH | The inspiration behind the IceCube:

Other skating aids weren't right for his son. So he invented a new one

5 months ago
Duration 0:49
When his son Liam was struggling to learn how to skate, David Grimes took it upon himself to create the "IceCube," which can be configured in multiple ways, depending on the user's abilities.

He came up with the box of specially cut plywood and moveable reinforcing tubes that help prevent a skater's feet from sliding out. 

A central "keel" keeps skates from crossing over and ensures legs aren't tied up. It can be pushed from behind and even becomes a bench when the skater becomes tired.

"It's the flexibility of the design that … really makes it," said Grimes.

Students 'flourish' thanks to aids, teacher says

Three of Grimes' prototype IceCubes are helping teenagers from a special education class glide over the ice at Bell Centennial Arena in Ottawa's Bells Corners neighbourhood.

Bell High School gym teacher Michael Moloughney, who grew up with the thrill of skating on ponds on his family's farm, is helping students including Liam glide around the ice once a week.

"It's been great to develop their skills and their confidence," said Moloughney. "It helps them work on their balance and they flourish."

Three wooden cubes on an indoor rink.
A class of special education students practise skating at Bell Centennial Arena. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Grimes and Moloughney said other skaters living with disabilities could benefit from a device like the IceCube. 

Grimes, who watches his son and his classmates enjoy skating each week, called it "more than a sport."

"It's a social activity, part of our great Canadian tradition, and I don't want them to be left out."


Stu Mills

CBC Ottawa reporter

You can reach Stu Mills by email at

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