Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Simon Hayter
[North Bay & District Sledge Hockey Association] Sledge hockey arrived in North Bay in 2002 and a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation arrived two years later. “It was great timing. It helped us buy equipment and has paid for about eighty percent of our ice time. We only have one team in North Bay, but our kids take on the able-bodied players. Everyone gets into the sledges — and I probably don’t have to tell you who wins. The kids with disabilities win every time and they feel great.” Dan Selin has coached hockey for years and he loves coaching sledge hockey most of all. “Right now, we have kids as young as twelve and someone who’s twenty-six. Some are really challenged with physical disabilities; others might have mild cerebral palsy, with great arm strength. Sledge hockey shows the able-bodied athletes what it really means to be healthy and what courage the kids with disabilities show, on the ice and off the ice. People say to me, ‘Ohmigosh, those kids can do that — use sleds on ice and shoot the puck into the net. My problems are small.’ “The handicapped players feel accepted and the able-bodied players realize that the spirit, the human spirit, is the same in us all. A lot of my kids are kind of cocooned in wheelchairs, but put them on the ice and their imaginations take off. They get a new freedom. This is how they learn there are no boundaries. It’s all in what you can imagine.”