Partnership works to create opportunities
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – On March 11, Midstate Independent Living Choices (MILC), in partnership with the K.B. Willett Ice Arena, will host their second annual Adapted Ice Skating Event.
The event is designed to provide individuals with disabilities the recreational activity they might not otherwise have access to.
“When I first started at MILC in 2019, I was encouraged by my supervisor to develop a program such as an event, workshop, etc. that I was passionate about and would benefit the individuals with disabilities that we serve,” recalled MILC Independent Living Consultant/Lead Planner Alex Lena.
“After thinking about it and pondering different ideas, I kept coming back to one – ice skating.
“I grew up playing hockey, rollerblading and going to open skate times at my local rink. I wanted to be able to share this activity that I enjoy so much with everyone, no matter their age or ability.”
The event’s main focus area is on the 11 counties that MILC serves – Adams, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Taylor, Lincoln, Langlade, Forest, Oneida, Vilas, and Florence – but it is open to anyone with a disability and their family members and caregivers.
“There aren’t many skating opportunities in central and northern Wisconsin where individuals with different disabilities can come together and engage in an activity they may have otherwise thought not possible,” Lena explained.
“This not only provides a time for individuals with disabilities to get together with peers, but family members can come and meet other parents/guardians/siblings of someone with a disability and share experiences and resources in an informal setting.”
Attendees can participate in whatever manner they are comfortable.
“We have different Assistive Technology (AT) such as walkers, wheelchairs, and sled hockey sleds that they can use to get on the ice,” Lena added.
“This year on top of the open skate time, we are excited to offer a sled hockey clinic where individuals with physical disabilities can come learn about sled hockey and how to safely get in a sled as well as how to properly propel themselves on the ice. We are hoping to gain enough interest in our communities to eventually facilitate starting a sled hockey team in the area.”
The sled hockey clinic will take place noon-12:30 p.m., led by Brad Roethlisberger, Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association disabled hockey director.
During the remaining time, 12:30-2 p.m., participants can take part in open skate using a variety of assistive technology.
The event is scheduled for March 11, noon – 2 p.m., at the K.B. Willett Ice Arena in Stevens Point.
“We were originally going to have the first event in 2020 but we needed to cancel it due to COVID. After things started opening back up in 2022, we felt comfortable offering this opportunity to the public,” Lena stated.
For more information, contact Lena at 715-344-4210, Ext. 232, or e-mail at [email protected] More information can also be found at https://www.facebook.com/milcinc.