Students with autism experiment with ice sports

Scope’s student journalist Ciaran Hoyle joined the students from Eastern Ranges School during their visit to O'Brien Arena.

Ice-skating is a unique experience. When you first make contact with the ice, it’s like a burst of energy has you. Friction disappears, and you gracefully glide across the surface.

Late last year, students from Eastern Ranges School (a P-12 school for students with autism) had a go at ice skating at the O’Brien Group Arena.

The purpose of this visit was to introduce the students to a new sport. The group has many football or soccer players, however not many are exposed to winter sports like ice-skating and curling.

First the class tried curling, a slower-paced version of hockey popular in countries like Canada. They experimented with moving around on the ice and pushing the 4kg puck.

To accommodate the students’ needs, the music was turned down and flashing lights were disabled. They also reduced the rink size to half for students using wheelchairs.

Daniel and Thomas, two of the students on the ice on Tuesday, both agreed they enjoyed trying a new sport. As Thomas said, “Anything to get out of the classroom!”

After curling, the students attempted ice skating. This was challenging for nearly everyone!

There were many slips and trips but after some practice and with the help of equipment, a lot of the kids started to get the hang of it.

Others had fun riding on novelty items, pushed by volunteers.

The O’Brien Group Arena is an international event arena and fully accessible. The arena also has the capacity to change the temperature and surface of the ice to suit the activity.

Providing opportunities for people of all abilities is central to Scope’s mission to enable people with a disability to live as equal and empowered citizens.

75% of people living with disability wished to participate more in sports and active recreation. Scope’s ice sports program is breaking down some of the barriers that prevent people living with disability from participating in sports.

About Ciaran Hoyle

Ciaran Hoyle - Profile picCiaran is 19 year-old writer, diagnosed with autism since he was five. He is extremely passionate about writing and wants to make a career out of this.

This article was written as part of Scope Sports Journalism Project, aimed at increasing the awareness of social participation in sport by people with multiple and complex disability.