NJ Freeze and Aspen Ice Host a Special Event for Special Kids
Article by Nancy Zaklukiewicz Pictures by Kimberle Strasser and Michelle Bellog
On Saturday Feb 29, the NJ Freeze hockey club and Aspen Ice hosted the 4th annual SNAP skating event. It was the biggest turnout yet and the smiles all around were priceless!
The idea began 4 years ago when a NJ Freeze hockey team wanted to do something to give back to the community. Someone came up with the idea of having the team share their love of skating with special needs kids. They contacted a group called SNAP (Special Needs Athletic Programs) which runs recreational programs for kids with special needs. The focus of SNAP is to incorporate a “children teaching children” model into rec sports, to create a culture of acceptance of all children. It was a perfect match! Instead of a year end team party, they invited 20 SNAP kids with different abilities to come learn how to skate. Right from the start it was hard to tell who was smiling more, the hockey players or the participants! It has now become an annual event.
This year we had our biggest group yet. 50+ Players from teams across the Freeze organization were matched up with 50+ SNAP participants of all ages and varying abilities. One way or another, they all got out there on the ice and had a great time. Some participants arrived proudly announcing they might not need a buddy because we taught them how to skate last year! Others were anxious at first but were soon taking laps and standing proud at picture time. Through the SNAP program, special kids gain confidence and self esteem in a non-competitive atmosphere. Volunteers learn what it is like to have a disability and comes away with a better understanding about various disabilities. For more information about the program
Aspen Ice and NJ Freeze thank our friends from SNAP for coming to skate with us. We look forward to seeing you again next year!