On Sunday March 5th, the NJ Freeze Hockey Club & Aspen Ice in Randolph hosted the 2nd annual “Learn to Skate” event for kids with special needs. The Freeze joined forces with the Special Needs Athletic Program (SNAP) and invited 30 special needs kids from the community to come skate. With the help of SNAP mentors and parent volunteers, they created a fun, sensory-friendly environment for the children. The hockey players modeled basic skating motions, gave tips on how to get up after a fall, and held out a hand for balance and assurance. Kids participated to whatever degree they were comfortable, on skates, walkers, or wheelchairs. For some, it was a thrill to experience the feeling of flying around on the ice. Others just got a kick out of sitting “in the penalty box” with the hockey players.
SNAP’s mission is to bridge the gap between typical kids and those with special needs by encouraging the idea of “kids helping kids”. SNAP runs clinics and implements programs in schools nationwide like the anti-bullying “Kindness is Cool” campaign. Through events like this one, special needs participants gain confidence and self-esteem. The hockey players enjoyed the chance to give back to kids in their own community. They quickly gained a better understanding of the struggles of kids with special needs. The NJ Freeze was proud to collaborate with SNAP and Aspen Ice in promoting a climate of empathy and a culture of respect and kindness toward special and differently-abled kids in our community.
Article by Nancy Zaklukiewicz
Pictures from Nancy Zaklukiewicz and Pam Murphy