Lloyd Thompson had never used an ice sled before but that didn’t make any difference to the Webster Elementary student. Within minutes after he arrived at The Depot Ice Rink in downtown Minneapolis on Dec. 14, he was out on the ice. Using hand held picks, he skated his way around the rink and never looked back.
Thompson and six other students from an adapted physical education class were part of an outing arranged by The Courage Center and the Minneapolis Public Schools. The children with disabilities ranged in age from kindergarten up through 8th grade from either Harry Davis Academy or Webster Elementary. Also spending the morning at The Depot were some 60 able-bodied students from Dakota Hills Middle School in Eagan, who had made their own arrangement to go ice skating.
“Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the outing and so did our staff and parents,” said Ryan Anderson, a DAPE (Developmental Adapted Physical Education) teacher with the Minneapolis Public Schools. “We are always looking for new recreational activities for our students and this fit the bill. We don’t have the type of equipment and experience that The Courage Center has for children with disabilities so this was a great opportunity for the kids.
“The interaction with the other school was great, especially when those students started skating with our kids and pushing the ice sleds. After the outing, our students were able to go back to school and tell their peers they went ice skating just like everyone else. It was a self-confidence builder and it was empowering.”
For the past few years, The Courage Center has been partnering with the Minneapolis Public Schools to bring program opportunities to its students with disabilities, such as archery and downhill skiing. “This is the first time we had a skating event with the school children,” said Janelle Spoden from The Courage Center Sports & Recreation, which supplied the ice sleds.
“The staff at The Depot who helped us out with this event were really phenomenal. They made ice skating a great experience for the kids from the Minneapolis Schools as well as the kids from Eagan. And meshing the groups together is just what we like to see – both groups of kids, all of varying abilities, learning from each other and playing together.”