July 11, 2018 7:42 pm

Markham making hockey accessible for youth with physical disabilities

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Markham is breaking barriers with a unique hockey camp. Susan Hay has the story.

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To many, hockey is Canada’s favorite pastime. And this month the City of Markham, in partnership with Variety Village, is holding a unique summer camp that’s breaking down barriers in sport for youth with physical disabilities.

“Volt Hockey is a new program and it’s working with kids who have various limitations and abilities. It’s putting them into a chair with electric power,” said Variety Village’s volt hockey coach Chris Murdoch.

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It’s a variation of floor hockey with the addition of specially-designed chairs that are operated by using a joystick, allowing anyone with upper mobility to play.

“It gives them independence, the independence to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves and then it’s the opportunity to play on a team,” said Murdoch.

“So for the kids that we’re working with, this is their primary land sport.”

“Hockey is Canada’s game, right?” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

“What better opportunity for kids who’ve had to sit on the sidelines in the past and watch their friends play or look at other players enjoy the game of hockey and now this allows them to participate.”

Mount Joy Community Centre is hosting the three-day camp. It’s a pilot project and a precursor to a ten-week program this fall.

“Not only do we want to offer it to the kids here in the City of Markham, but all of the surrounding areas,” said Scarpitti.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for these young kids to be able to fulfill their dreams to play Canada’s game.”

“I would have never imagined that I would be able to see my son play hockey,” said parent Harjeet Sandhu.

“Seeing my son Bhavjeet play hockey has made my dreams come true.”

Volt is an emerging form of hockey and played by more than 50 teams in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

“Every parent that comes into the program just gets excited — just to see their child playing independently and being a part of something bigger than themselves – a team,” said Murdoch.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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