Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Power of Play!

In the past week we have started our winter skating program season in East Boston and Holyoke. What a perfect stress reliever after a difficult election season!!! I've never seen so many smiles by so many people of all colors and abilities in a single skating program as I did in East Boston. Five groups and their staff came out to play on the ice, along with several individuals and families for a total of 85 participants. Once again I am reminded of the power of play to clear energy and revitalize spirits. For this reason I'm re-posting the following celebration of play from four years ago!

      With winter comes ice, something many people avoid for its potential hazards, yet in the right context, ice brings out a sense of fun and playfulness. Where an ice rink is defined, indoors or out, any sort of game or play activity is bound to be going on. Being on ice propels the body into movement to stay warm.  Testing the slickness of ice translates into sliding, spinning, gliding, chasing and smiles. Ice inspires play!

I've loved the playfulness of being on ice all my life. I grew up in a neighborhood where a baseball field was flooded every winter by the local boy scout troop. The kids, teens and adults attracted to this local patch of frozen water became an impromptu winter community where play ruled. For many years as an adult I often sought out frozen bodies of water to play games with my dogs. Now, as an adaptive recreation professional I observe and join people's delight on ice every winter in our programs. I love the way disability seems to evaporate when people with and without disabilities use ice sleds to play hockey.

Spontaneity and inventiveness abound in our adaptive skating programs. There seems to be a new game created at almost every program we facilitate. Some of the games we've generated include spinning donuts in power wheelchairs, ice sled races, hockey games with balls and pucks of all sizes and styles, flying kites while skating, lining up in ice sled trains, building foam block towers and walls to crash into, slaloms, and power chair towing of people in ice sleds in a variation of crack-the-whip. With skaters on conventional skates, using skate walkers, ice sleds and/or their own wheelchairs, and others using ice grippers over their shoes, the possibilities are still being discovered!

If you are feeling hum-drum about winter or need a therapeutic dose of fun and games, consider getting out on the ice wherever you are! If you live in Massachusetts we have two programs coming up in the next month, with more scheduled for January through March at additional locations.

December 13 - East Boston, Porrazzo Rink
December 18 - Holyoke, Fitzpatrick Rink

Call 413-545-5759 to register for these programs sponsored by DCR's Universal Access Program! The whole rink is ours to play on for two hours! Come as you are (with warm clothes, gloves and a hat) and embrace winter with a spin on the ice!

Do you play on the ice? Please share your game inventions using the comment link below!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hiking with Waypoint Adventure near Boston

Guest Post from Waypoint Adventure - we are thrilled to have them hiking in the Blue Hills!
With the fall weather finally kicking in, Waypoint and the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts (DCR) have started a four-part series to hike/snowshoe various sections of the Blue Hills Reservation. The DCR has sponsored these four hikes to spread the word about accessibility.
On Saturday we met at the Trailside Museum to begin our journey into the Reservation. It was a gorgeous day with little wind and peak fall color that popped against the gray sky. The weather and color wasn’t the only thing that reassured us of a great day – the attitudes and laughter that filled our group created a real special feeling from the start.
Anytime we facilitate adventures like this, we like to plant a thoughtful seed at the start. Sometimes that seed is planted through an activity, a question or a quote. We find it to be a great way to create a consistent thread of conversation, thought and feeling into the program. This program was not different – At the end of our pre-hike briefing, right before we set foot in the woods, we read a quote by Wendell Berry:
Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off into a new place there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into” – Wendell Berry
If there was truly any “little nagging of dread” in any one of us prior to the hike, it was diffused quickly and every part of the day was a huge success. The perspective on what it means to be a community, working together to accomplish something big, never left the eyes and minds of this group. There was never one person succeeding on Saturday, it was all of us….and we had fun doing it!
There was a constant humming of conversation about things like – past hikes, food, recipes, politics and family traditions. On Waypoint hikes we like to create moments for people to stop and listen. On the last leg of our hike, we paused by a pond to be silent and reflect. At the end, we asked people what the predominant thought in their mind was during our silence. Responses included: love, beauty, community and zombies.
We’re so thankful for the chance to get into the Blue Hills for three more Saturdays this winter! An especially big thanks goes out to Bill Boyes (volunteer photographer) and the DCR for their support of these events!