With the recent Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, our kids may be keen to emulate their heroes and hit the slopes and ice themselves.
We might live in one of the world’s driest climates, however that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the thrill of ice skating. There are some fantastic options around the country with a range of adaptive equipment, catering to the diverse needs of our children.
Regular frames or a fun Penguin are perfect for kids who are new to the ice, unsteady on their feet or require assistance with balance, as the design gives stability to the skater.
Seals are used for when seated skating is preferred and the child has adequate core strength to balance. A parent pushes the skater to glide across the ice, ensuring stability.
Ice Gliders allow individuals in wheelchairs to experience the gliding sensation of ice skating (check each ice glider for individual accommodations for chair sizes).
Custom Ice Chairs (as featured) was built by TADWA (Technology for Ageing and Disability WA). The Ice Chair features studded tyres and independent left and right brakes to aid steering, allowing the skater total freedom, as another skater pushes to allow the sensation of gliding on the ice.
Para ice hockey is modified for players, so instead of skates, players sit on double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting. Curling is where two teams take it in turns to slide stones made of granite towards a target – known as a House. It is closely related to bowls or boules. Wheelchair curling is an adaptation of the game for people with disability affecting the lower part of their body.
Adelaide, SA / THE ICE ARENA Snow play sessions (which run during school terms) are a great introduction to ice skating as well as a fantastic sensory experience. The sessions are ideal for learning to be at ease with the snow, and include fun games, obstacles and props. The Ice Arena also has wheelchair ice skating in public sessions. theicearena.com.au
Perth, WA / COCKBURN ICE ARENA has an all abilities session that runs throughout the school term. Accessible options include skating aids such as penguins, seals and regular frames. They also have an ice glider so skaters can enjoy the sensation of gliding on ice whilst in their wheelchair. A custom ice chair is also available on request. The ice chair is similar to a beach chair but adapted to ice. cockburnicearena.com.au
Melbourne, VIC / O’BRIEN ICEHOUSE is right in the heart of Docklands in Melbourne. Wheelchair ice-skating is available in public sessions. The O’Brien Icehouse Hockey Academy runs development camps in April, July, September and January holiday periods. During selected holiday periods, the Hockey Academy collaborates with G.E.T (Global Edge Training) to conduct both minor, senior and para ice hockey training camps. obrienicehouse.com.au
Brisbane, QLD / ICE WORLD has an Olympic sized rink for plenty of fun-filled laps and has a skate school as well as a hockey program for any age from 5 to 80! A designated wheelchair session runs during school terms or there’s always curling on a Wednesday night. iceworld.com.au
Sydney, NSW / ICE ZOO SYDNEY offers a world of fun on ice, all close to the Sydney CBD. Wheelchair users can skate during general public sessions or perhaps you’d like to dance at the Ice Zoo’s ‘Disco on Ice’? Penguin skating aids are available.Children under 15 can also train with the Ice Zoo Hockey Club, however basic skating skills are required. icezoo.com
Hobart, TAS / ICE SKATING TASMANIA offers several activities for wannabe skaters, including a snow play sensory experience, and ‘on ice’ games such as hockey. Penguin skating aids are available, as well as seals, skate frames and kangaroos. Wheelchairs users can also skate during the public sessions. iceskatingtasmania.com.au