Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gliding Stars Skate Walkers

After fifteen years of making skate walkers to assist people with balance in our adaptive ice skating programs, I have been thrilled to discover a professionally manufactured skate walker.

While making skate walkers out of PVC pipe is relatively inexpensive, our walkers have had a tendency to break or come apart in transit to programs and sometimes even in use on the ice.  Since we are using the PVC pipe in a way it was not intended, there is a vulnerability to cracking of joints in particular on cold ice. They've required extra attention to be sure they are in good working order and used properly so they don't slip out unexpectedly from under the user.  Having to discard broken skate walkers and rebuild for each season is a hassle I'd love to eliminate as a recreation manager.

The metal skate walkers offered by Gliding Stars offer a four leg stable wide base design that is very difficult to knock out of position while in use, even when applying full body weight. Weight limit? 350 pounds! The walkers are hinged with a tube-within-a-tube method that allows for folding in transport. Foam handles offer a cushioned support for  hands and avoid contact with cold metal. The walkers come in three sizes to cover a range of heights. Though I would prefer one walker model that allowed for height adjustability, I am sure that the three sizes offer a better fit and stability for individuals within the size range of the design.

Gliding Stars is a fantastic adaptive skating program based in New York oriented toward teaching people with disabilities who are ambulatory the fundamentals of ice skating. Founded in 1994, Gliding Stars has developed their own line of assistive devices as part of their mission to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to increase their potential and have fun learning to ice skate. They provide instructional expertise and guidance to communities interested in starting chapters. Gliding Stars has chapters around the country in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida and is looking for more venues.

Each chapter offers an end of season public ice show allowing skaters to dress in costume and demonstrate their skills to music.

Check out recent performances on YouTube, where you can see various skate walker designs in action, by searching Gliding Stars 2015.

Anybody want to start up a Gliding Stars chapter in Massachusetts?