July 19th, 2024

Para ice hockey providing a new inclusive opportunity for locals

By Lethbridge Herald on November 23, 2023.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Para ice hockey is providing an inclusive ice sport opportunity for local participants.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The opportunity to try para ice hockey, which is formerly sledge hockey, for free is back beginning Monday thanks to a partnership between Alberta Health Services, Lethbridge Sport Council and Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association.

LMHA provided AHS with an evening ice time for the event and Lethbridge Sport Council are covering the cost for the sessions through a grant.

“The intention is to provide a new inclusive leisure opportunity for individuals living in Lethbridge and area,” said Shana Wandler, AHS clinical lead.

“It’s an opportunity to potentially (remove) some potential barriers to participation in recreation and specifically within an ice sport format. So that’s kind of how it began and it has been happening for a few seasons previously as well.”

Therapeutic recreation’s position in the health system is working with individuals regardless of whether there is any potential barriers.

“So with therapeutic recreation’s involvement, we are able to support individuals, whether it’s through modifications or making adaptations, to provide an inclusive leisure opportunity and leading to overall quality of life and well-being through positive leisure experiences,” said Wandler.

Sleds were donated to AHS a many  years ago and more particularly to therapeutic recreation’s equipment.

“And so having that equipment, we are wanting to support the growth of para ice hockey in Lethbridge (and) recognizing that for us, we do require those strong partnerships with community associations like the Lethbridge Sport Council and Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association,” she said.

No prior experience is needed as there are volunteers and therapeutic and recreation staff helping out.

“So when Alberta Health Services connected with us last year, we helped them promote and develop a few of the sessions through the year ,and this year, they’ve been able to do a much more regular program,” said Susan Eymann, Lethbridge Sport Council executive director.

“My dream would be that there’s a sport collective in Lethbridge to be able to support these types of initiatives.”

Able-bodied players and individuals with physical impairment are welcomed to play.

Sessions run 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. at Nicholas Sheran Arena on Nov. 27, Dec. 18, Jan. 15, 2024 , Jan. 29, Feb. 26 and on March 4, 11, 18 and 25.

Registration can be done by calling Wandler at (403) 382-0380 or by emailing shana.wandler@ahs.ca.

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