By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 2, 2023.
Starting tomorrow the City of Lethbridge is introducing two Ability Skate times into its public skating schedule, a new sensory-friendly public skating program specifically designed for members of the community with disabilities free of charge.
Partnership strategist with recreation and culture at the city of Lethbridge, Jennie Sudo spoke to reporters Friday and said the idea of the ability skate came from a conversation she had with a member of the community during their Community Conversation event in October at the Enmax Centre.
“One of the people that I got the opportunity to have a conversation with had mentioned that they don’t come to the ice arena for public skates because of their special needs and their abilities. They don’t feel comfortable out on ice during a fast-paced skate, and it really got us to thinking that we don’t really accommodate people with special needs,” said Sudo.
She said the ability skate will involve slow-pace skating with no music playing and lights set to accommodate people who have audio and light sensitivities respectively.
“We are also allowing temporarily for this skate mobility devices on the ice, so after we clean wheels for the mobility devices, we are welcoming anybody with wheelchairs, walkers, or any other assist out on the ice,” said Sudo.
A cleaning station will allow the mobility devices that come in contact with the ice surface to be wiped clean first.
Sudo said they have scheduled the ability skate in a way that suits a variety of schedules, which include one targeted towards adults while children are at school between 1 and 2 p.m on Tuesdays.
“We also have a skate on Sundays that is family friendly to let the kids come out and skate from 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. and all of those skates are at the civic ice arena at 905 6th Ave. S,” said Sudo.
She said depending on the success of the ability skate they will look into expanding it to other arenas across the city.
“We’re hoping that everybody comes out and enjoys the time, even though the skate is targeted towards people with special needs and disabilities, everybody is welcome to come as long as you anticipate a slower paced skate, with no music and dimmed lights, but we’re hoping that those family members that have members in their family that are disabled and non- disabled will all be able to come and enjoy family time together,” said Sudo.
Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter