Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I Learned to Ice Skate

Growing up in Canada often means that ice skating is par for the course, but what about for blind and visually-impaired kids? Many of you may think that it is not possible but I am here to tell you that it most definitely is. Really!

You're probably trying to figure out how or why would someone want to skate on ice if they are unable to see where they are going. Why would they want to put themselves through such torture? How on earth would they be able to retain their footing and keep from falling? These are all very logical and legitimate questions.

I'll be very honest with you. I took the step to learn to ice skate in order to improve my confidence. Skating without much vision can be very daunting and scary, and that was indeed my experience when I first started, but I was determined to overcome.

When I first learned to ice skate I had some vision; so it was not too bad for me; it has helped me tremendously to continue on now that I have lost most of my vision. I managed to complete four of six levels and learned to do such things as: glide on one foot, skate backwards, skull, do cross cuts and hockey stops, plus more. I still skate regularly, but without much vision I have to use different techniques in order to stay on my blades.

Ice skating gives me the feeling of power, self-control, and togetherness. Up until five years ago, I used to skate on my own with limited guidance, but now I skate by holding on to a friend’s arm. Ice skating brings me freedom! The feeling of pure bliss and exhilaration! I can be myself when I step on to the ice. I can fly high by feeling the wind on my face and smelling the fresh air and as Whitney Houston says in one of her songs: “Give me one moment in time. When I’m more than I thought I could be! When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answer is all up to me.”

When I am on the ice, I am on the top of the world and sight or the lack thereof really does not matter to me. I know that when others see me ice skating they stop and stare but I do not really care. My friends often tell me that occasionally skaters bump into each other while staring at me. Let them! I am blind but I can skate and have fun just like them.

I even played ice hockey! No, not within the mainstream environment, but with a team of blind and sighted players. This hockey team has been in existence since the 1970s and has traveled to such places as Russia and Finland to play other teams of blind players. If you would like to learn more about this team, then please visit www.iceowls.ca.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your accessibility and special-needs business consultant inviting you to go out there and tell everyone that yes! Blind and visually-impaired persons can learn how to ice skate and enjoy it like anyone else.

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