by Jeannine Hesser
Every parent wants their child to participate in activities they enjoy. Easy enough? Not necessarily. When your child has a significant physical disability, is 16 years old, and is obsessed with sports, finding a good match is definitely not easy. We got lucky.
Quite by chance, our Easter Seals physical therapist came upon the perfect solution for our son: power wheelchair floor hockey. A team of people all in power wheelchairs? Yes. Hockey? Yes. Competitive? Yes! The program, Philadelphia Powerplay Hockey, was started several years ago and has grown to include more than 20 players. It is the only team in the Northeastern United States. Players gather every other week, from late winter through late spring in the Drexel Hill/ Norristown area. They form two teams, and compete in two hours of floor hockey. They keep score, the coaches occasionally shout from the sidelines, there are uniformed referees to keep everyone safe, sticks break, there are penalties (yes, my son has served a few.) It is amazing to see ten people in power chairs racing back and forth on the court, their finesse and skill! It’s real hockey, which is what my son has always wanted. We are so fortunate to have found it.
This experience has been amazing for my son, not only to play, but to meet other people in power wheelchairs. What do they talk about? Mostly just hockey! The parents there, of course, can talk about much more. We all share a common bond, and inevitably compare notes and share ideas. The players’ ages range from pre-teen to 30 and beyond, so there is a great deal of life experience to share. Each time I go, I am truly inspired.
Now, what other power wheelchair sports can we find? Please share any programs you know about!
For more details, especially if you know someone who may want to join, see the website for details.