The Town of Truro, Municipality of Colchester and Sport Nova Scotia have combined to offer a crash course on sledge hockey hosted over the next eight weeks. With support from the IWK and Easter Seals, the on-ice sessions at Colchester Legion Stadium will aim to teach the sport to kids – able bodied and disabled alike.
“We bought a few sledges a while ago and we’ve been looking for ways to use them,” said Shannon Jarvis, Active Communities coordinator for the Town of Truro. “It was an area we felt we hadn’t really supported as well as we could have in the past.”
It was also a sport other recreation coordinators in the area have wanted to do for a while, said Kevin Patterson, Fundy region community sport development coordinator for Sport Nova Scotia.
“We knew we had the equipment in the area and we knew we had access to it, but we wanted to know there was a demand for it.”
Confirmation came recently in an email from a mother in Shubenacadie who had been travelling to Halifax every week with her kids for a sledge hockey program offered by the Easter Seals. In the middle of winter, the travelling can be tough and costly. It was the boost they’d needed to launch a program in Truro, Patterson said.
“We just thought it made sense with how central we are here in Truro to step up and offer a program for people who might have been travelling outside the area for sledge hockey.”
The sessions will run each Sunday, from 9 to 10 a.m., starting this weekend. Three instructors, who took coaching courses during the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Bridgewater last month, will lead the sessions. A cost of $30 will cover all eight weeks. Players only require warm clothing, boots and helmet with a facemask.
“It can be very costly for people to have to purchase all the equipment for themselves, so it’s nice to offer that help,” Jarvis said. The town has 10 sleds, and the county is in the process of purchasing 10 of their own.
Sledge hockey has seen a boost in popularity after last year’s release of an inspiring Gatorade commercial showing NHL stars – including Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon – trying the sport alongside physically disabled players. The lesson of inclusiveness is one the local program hopes to promote.
“It’s pretty important to us,” Patterson said. “We want to open this up to any youth, ages five to 18, who are interested in trying it out. We want the opportunity to be there for anyone.”
WHAT: Learn to Sledge Program
WHERE: Colchester Legion Stadium
WHEN: Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
WHO: Ages 5 to 18, all abilities, no experience required
COST: $30 for eight Sunday sessions (Feb. 7 to April 10)