RBC Play Hockey Grant Helps Bring Sledge Hockey to Thunder Bay
Article contributed by RBC, written for Hockey Canada website:
May 29, 2013 - Like most Canadian cities, Thunder Bay, Ontario has a passion for hockey and developed many hockey greats. One may find it surprising that the sport of sledge hockey was very much non-existent in the community until just recently.
“The awareness of the sport was there, but the funding was not,” explained Darren Lillington, sledge hockey coordinator, Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council, and regional service coordinator, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. Similar to hockey, sledge hockey is a very expensive sport and with limited funding, it is no surprise that the sport was somewhat inaccessible to the community.
This changed when the Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council (TBASC) received a $25,000 grant from RBC Play Hockey. RBC Play Hockey is one of the largest corporately-funded hockey programs that supports grassroots hockey in communities across North America. To date, RBC has provided more than $1.5 million in grants to over 120 hockey programs – ranging from learn-to-skate, ball hockey and equipment sharing programs to improving access to ice, hockey clinic initiatives and lowering registration costs.
With the grant funding, the TBASC has facilitated various initiatives that have had an early impact on the community. Focusing on promoting the sport and developing coaches and players, the TBASC has hosted a full-day sledge hockey coaching clinic, numerous open ice sessions for the public to come out and try the sport, and demonstrations for local university and college recreation therapy students. Several community groups and university students have also borrowed or inquired about the group’s sledge hockey equipment.
“Since receiving the RBC Play Hockey grant, the interest in the sport of sledge hockey has increased exponentially. We have been contacted by dozens of individuals and community agencies inquiring about how they could become involved in the sport in various capacities,” added Lillington. “This has included interest in becoming a participant in the sport, a coach or instructor, an official, or inquiring about how to arrange a trial session for a group.”
With increased awareness and participation in sledge hockey, TBASC has big plans for the sport. The group will also use funds to help subsidize registration fees and expand sledge hockey development to implement a learn-to-sledge program in conjunction with the city’s learn-to-skate program.
“This will allow us to utilize experienced skate instructors to develop an effective curriculum to teach sledge hockey skills,” said Lillington.
The TBASC hopes to create a sustainable sledge hockey program, offering individuals the ability to learn how to play the sport and develop their skills in a competitive manner. This will allow the TBASC to achieve its ultimate goal of one day developing a competitive sledge hockey team for the city of Thunder Bay.
“There is no doubt that this grant has improved access to sport in our community, and in particular, access to hockey for individuals with disabilities. We otherwise would not have been able to offer the same range of opportunities as this grant has made possible,” added Lillington.
Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council Launches Website
For Immediate Release
March 29, 2012 – The Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council is proud to announce the launch of their new website, www.tbaccessiblesports.ca. Visit the website for information on accessible sport opportunities in Thunder Bay and upcoming special events. See photos of local athletes in action, and find out more about how the different sports are played. Check us out on Facebook.
Combined with the launch of the website will be a sledge hockey demonstration which will see students from Lakehead University and Confederation College participating in sledge hockey at Delaney arena. This is a great opportunity to see this exciting sport in action and to try out a sledge yourself.
The Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council includes representation from sit skiing, sledge hockey, goalball, downhill skiing, blind curling, and wheelchair curling. The council works in partnership with ParaSport Ontario to promote and develop accessible sport opportunities in Thunder Bay. The Council is always looking for new sport members and volunteers to help with sports and special events.
Thunder Bay Accessible Sport Council