PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Finding inclusive activities for children with mobility issues or other disabilities can be challenging for parents, but adaptive skating lessons at the Pensacola Bay center are helping kids overcome these obstacles.
“Just being included in general is just amazing,” said parent Cody Martin. “It’s a whole different world for a lot of these kids and for them to be able to come out here on the ice and just have an equal chance at something is incredible.”
The one-on-one lessons are instructed by The Greater Pensacola Figure Skating Club in partnership with Learn to Skate USA and are offered three days a week with 30 minute sessions.
Parents involved with the adaptive skating program have been overjoyed by the experience it’s given their children.
“These coaches take him places he could never get by himself,” said parent Kathy Copper. “It’s his favorite day of the week.”
The skills learned on the rink also have benefits off the ice, working on things like balance and other motor skills that can pose as a challenge for some.
“The first day she came she couldn’t even stand up on the skates,” said parent Chris Romans. “Now she can go off on her own without the coaches. It’s just been a huge improvement in such a short amount of time.”
Those in the adaptive skating program skate alongside skaters of all levels, while in a safe and supportive environment where they can progress at their own rate.
“It’s amazing all these other athletes, they’re fantastic skaters and they don’t look at my son any differently,” said Copper. “They are super friendly, they’re helpful, they’re wonderful.”
The Greater Pensacola Figure Skating Club is also looking for qualified instructors who are interested in joining their team.
“There are so many lessons in life that are learned on the ice,” said Sharon Gaubert, treasurer of the Greater Pensacola Figure Skating Club. “When you fall you get back up and it teaches perseverance and promotes physical fitness no matter what your age of range of abilities are.”
The adaptive skating program work to remove barriers by providing unique training bases on every athlete’s needs.
“We’ve met friends that have had real conversations with us about how to include more kids and what we can do to expand the program,” said Martin. “We’ve slowly become a part of the bigger picture here.”