As part of Durham Region’s commitment to create more inclusive sport opportunities, approximately $25,000 in modifications have been completed to improve accessibility for sledge hockey, also referred to as Para hockey or Para ice hockey at the national and international level, at Iroquois Park Sports Centre Arena 3 in Whitby.
The work was funded as one of the Durham Region 2019 Ontario Parasport Games legacy initiatives and was completed by the Town of Whitby in partnership with Durham Region. The goal was to improve the playing experience for sledge hockey players, and to provide increased opportunities for Durham Region to host sledge hockey events in the future, said a statement.
“Durham is a caring community; a place where treating one another with dignity and respect drives a strong sense of belonging for everyone who calls this region their home. I am proud of the work, within our region, to ensure equal opportunities for athletes of all abilities. Durham Region is home to some of the best and busiest high-performance sport venues in the Greater Toronto Area. These rink modifications—and facilities like Abilities Centre—reflect our ongoing commitment to inclusion and accessibility, and I look forward to the positive impact that this initiative will have on adaptive sports in our community,” said John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Region of Durham.
The modifications include:
- Replacing the boards at the players’ benches and penalty boxes with clear polycarbonate viewing panels.
- Adding 36-inch-wide gates to the players’ benches and penalty boxes.
- Lowering the entrance area to players’ benches and penalty boxes.
- Replacing fixed benches with removable benches.
Iroquois Park Sport Centre Arena 3 is home to the Durham Steelhawks, who have become one of the leading sledge hockey programs in Ontario during the past 25 years.
“Whitby is home to world-class recreational facilities, like Iroquois Park Sports Centre, that offer a best-in-class experience to visitors of all ages and abilities. We are proud to partner with the Region of Durham on these important accessibility upgrades that will increase and support participation in the sport of sledge hockey,” said Don Mitchell, Mayor of Whitby.
“We’re proud of all our Games legacy initiatives that are providing more opportunities and increasing participation in adaptive sport in our region. These rink improvements will make Whitby a destination for sledge hockey events,” added Don Terry, Co-Chair, Durham Region 2019 Ontario Parasport Games.
The community rallied around the Durham Region 2019 Ontario Parasport Games and generated a legacy fund of $112,000. In addition to the sledge hockey accessibility upgrades to the rink at Iroquois Park Sports Centre in Whitby, legacy initiatives include:
- A grant program to support youth from lower income families to participate in parasport, in partnership with Durham Region-based charity, Their Opportunity.
- Durham Adaptive Sport Collective (which met for the first time in October 2019) and working subcommittees.
- A two-year Parasport School Grow It program delivered in partnership with Abilities Centre and the Durham Adaptive Sport Collective, to introduce parasports, which includes providing instruction and some equipment, to schools in Durham Region.
- A new annual Adaptive Sport Festival hosted in Durham Region.