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Seafair introducing hockey for kids with developmental delays
It’s an idea that is long overdue, but finally set to start.
Thanks to the vision of Ken Hamaguchi and strong financial support from the local corporate community in the form of Boston Pizza, Seafair Minor Hockey is about to introduce a unique program for kids with development disabilities.
“There is (at present) no hockey programs for players with special needs and at Seafair we want to grow the sport and make it accessible to as many kids as we can,” explains Hamaguchi, executive director of the local minor hockey association. “Players go on the ice with a parent, older sibling or volunteer and play hockey. For some, that might mean learning to skate, for others just be shooting pucks around, and for the more advanced players perhaps participating in a mini scrimmage.”
Outside of his role as executive director for Seafair, Hamaguchi works as a behaviour consultant for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. As a result he knows first-hand there is a demand for a program like this.
“Many of my clients do not participate in organized team sports because they have a hard time with all the rules, strategies and skill requirements. Yet like all Canadians, they love hockey,” he said. “This program does not give them a league to play in, but it gives them the opportunity to go on the ice and have some fun, in a very safe environment.”
Hamaguchi said response to the initiative has been nothing shy of amazing. He said besides Seafair’s members, he’s had enquires from a number of social service agencies and families of children and adolescents with autism—from within and outside of Richmond—asking about the program. He has also had many requests from Richmond high school-aged players asking if they could volunteer to assist with the program.
The cost will be a modest $100 per player, but they must wear full equipment. Seafair has some donated equipment, while additional jerseys will be made available thanks to a generous donation by Boston Pizza Ironwood owner Jeff Wheatley.
Wheatley has long been a strong supporter of Seafair activities and was keen to support this initiative by providing funds to purchased new jerseys.
Hamaguchi stressed the new program is not a league and does not involve any game play.
“It’s simply just an introduction to hockey, and for some players that may be as far as they can go. But at least they get to go on the ice in a safe environment and have fun,” said Hamaguchi. “I expect it start slow and build momentum. I’m confident it will take off.”
The first session is set to go Oct. 19.
To register contact registrar Tina O’Connor at 604-271-3702 or e-mail her at email@example.com.