Winter months in our Montana can be the most difficult time of the year for people with disabilities to escape their home and find a way to be with others in their community. Montana Independent Living Project has identified adaptive ice-skating as an accessible, inclusive, affordable winter activity for people with disabilities. Whether it’s an individual or a family with a child that has a disability which limits their ability to skate, they will now be able to include the entire family in this activity by using a standard sled or a push sled. When someone feels welcomed and included in their community, the outcomes and the improvement in their quality of life is endless.
Learning a new skill or activity increases a person’s confidence. Increased confidence improves their quality of life as they begin to explore what other new activities and ideas are available to them. They will meet new friends and maybe reunite with old ones.
Our initial open house participants were between the ages of 5 and 76. We saw people with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, behavior health disabilities and developmental disabilities. In addition, we want parents and other family members of children with disabilities to know they are welcome to join us as they find a way to have good family time. Our adaptive ice-skating program include a pusher handle option on all our sleds. This allows a person of any age, who may not be able to propel themselves across the ice, to be able to participate with assistance of a pusher. The common denominator for everyone that has skated is, they all had a big smile on their face during and after their time on the ice.
This program will bring a new choice to the table, especially for those needing adaptive equipment. Adaptive skating can be cost prohibitive to participate in as a sled purchase can cost $800 to $1,000. We have attempted to remove this barrier and allow people another alternative for fun. Equipment will be available for use, free of charge, at the ice arena.
The goal is to give people with a disability an opportunity to get out of their homes and join their neighbors, friends and family in an inclusive environment as they build confidence, develop new skills, learn to work as a team, exercise and socialize.
Activities will include but are not limited to:
· Open skating time
· Parties and events
· Join a sled hockey team
· Become a coach
· Become a volunteer
· HAVE FUN!