Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Young Nordic Skiers with Autism Have Fun in Weston

Despite our snowless winter, we've seen some wonderful progress at our winter program on the Weston Ski Track. Its the only place in Massachusetts that makes snow for cross country skiing. This year we've enjoyed watching several participants with Autism Spectrum disorders build confidence and skills while having fun coming each week.

Some parents are able to take a little respite time while their children are with recreation staff on the snowfield by finding a spot nearby and being available by cell phone. Other parents ski with their children, or push them on a kicksled, or vice versa. Kicksleds are useful as an alternate way to be on the snow to get used to a new place and can serve as a break from learning to stand ski. Offering ski poles gives the seated person an opportunity to physically engage and gets them used to the arm exercise.
Brenda Davies, who leads the Universal Access Program on Sundays, says "It's great to get families out together on the kick-sleds and skiing alongside!" It provides the chance for family members to have fun and learn together in the context of a program experience with the built-in opportunity to meet and make friends with similar families. Some kids have found a new friend this winter on the ski track!

The young woman pictured here gets assistance while setting up to ski with a ski walker - an interesting balance tool that can serve as a transitional element for new skiers. Adding a gait belt around her waist can make it easier for helpers to assist with balance and help her test skiing without the walker. She is now able to fit her boots into the skis independently.

Many of the steps of skiing take time to learn, such as clicking your boot into the binding using a ski pole, learning to balance on skis while moving slowly without poles, learning to use poles and increase speed, turn, and fall. Each aspect can be broken into short steps and built upon, offering opportunities for improvement on a week-to-week basis.

Only one program left coming up this Sunday March 4!!! Call Brenda at 413-259-0009 to sign up! The program will run from 12-4pm. Might be a nice chance to check it out for next year and embrace some fun on the snow before this "winter" is over! The adaptive ski program also offers seated cross country skis and snowshoes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Winter Fun Indoors and Out!

Program Increases Access at State Rinks from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.

We are still snowless in most of Massachusetts, but our skating programs at indoor rinks are still going strong! This week 65 people joined us in Brockton and 50 joined us on the ice in Revere. The Neighborhood Network News (Channel 9 Boston) showed up to do a film feature of our program! The reporter and cameraman stay on the ice for well over an hour and got some great footage of the heartwarming happenings that occur during a typical adative skating program. Check out both the NNN feature above and the youtube version below set to music!

Join the fun! Here's a list of the rest of our skating programs for this season!

Holyoke: Sundays February 26, March 18 and April 1:  12-2pm

Worcester: Thursdays March 1 and 29 from 2-4pm

Revere: Tuesdays March 20 and April 10 from 11:30am  - 1:30pm

Call Heidi Marie-Peterson at 413-577-3840 to register for the above programs.

Brockton: Sunday, February 26 from 1:30-3:320pm during public skating.

North Boston: Tuesday, February 28 from 1:30-3:30 during public skating.

Call All Out Adventures at 413-527-8980 to register for these last 2 programs!

You can still play outdoors on the snow at the Weston Ski Track outside Boston where snow is made overnight (thank goodness the temperature is dipping below freezing!). We have three more programs coming up:

Monday, February 20
Sunday, February 26
Sunday, March 4

Each Weston program runs 12 noon to 4pm. Call Stavros Outdoor Access to find out more and pre-register at 413-259-0009.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Adaptive Skaters - More Images and Techniques

In honor of faraway adaptive skating friends Oatie and Mel, and those in Massachusetts who are coming out to our adaptive skating programs, here are a few more photos from recent programs celebrating a variety of skaters enjoying the ice! There seems to be no end to the possibilities for creative support techniques!

Power chair users can spin, slide, do donuts, and even simulate bilateral skating if they can lean side to side while in motion.

Members of a high school hockey team assist sled skaters in playing hockey.

Stroller bar handles allow for assistance as needed and can be removed easily for those who can propel themselves independently.

Skilled ice skaters can push a sled or skate alongside for company, or even get in a sled themselves to model techniques. Skating backwards in front of a sled skater can offer face to face instructions and help focus those with attention challenges.
For some who are learning to skate on conventional ice skates, pushing someone else in a sled allows for mutual support!

We've seen strong sled skaters pushing other sled skaters in a train.

I have done my fair share of both conventional and sled skating and even received a ride on a sled as shown here. Some new variation is revealed in almost every program.

A young man in a wheeled stander gets to test out his skating legs.

It is always nice to have families enjoy the ice together! We also see groups from day care facilities, group homes and even rehab hospitals at our programs.

A variety of medical equipment can acquire a sense of fun appeal out on the ice. Last week I observed a young man in a wheelchair, with skates on his feet, alternate between playing hockey from his wheelchair and trying out skating using a walker, with the assistance of a few skaters.

Kids fit fine in adult sized sleds - just make sure to fasten the seat belt! A sliding foot tray is moved to the position closest to the seat so this young boy has a place to rest his feet. A piece of foam could also be strapped or taped to the frame for leg positioning support and also serve as insulation from the cold of the ice below.

A chest strap can help keep a child, or anyone who might need additional torso support, in an upright position.

Blankets can be wrapped around the legs of sled skaters and cover people in wheelchairs to help keep them warmer.