Crystal Spring’ students were afforded a rare and unique opportunity last Thursday afternoon when they attended a Universal Access Skating event, hosted by State Representative Carole Fiola. The motivation behind this event began when constituent Paul Rebello approached Fiola with concern regarding a lack of appropriate recreational opportunities for those with disabilities during the winter months. In agreement, Fiola was inspired to put together a fun and suitable event to help meet the need.

With Driscoll Rink in Fall River generously donating ice time for the event, it made it possible for city residents and surrounding agency attendees to take part. Adaptive equipment was brought in by the Department of Conservation & Recreation as well as All Out Adventures of Northampton. These tools, such as walkers that aid in stability and balance and ice sleds for those unable to bear weight, were necessary in order for everyone to be able to participate. Large toys, such as foam blocks, added to the entertainment.

Alda Binsaid, Director of Education for Crystal Springs, stated “Adaptive skating allows students with disabilities to share in the same experiences as their non-disabled peers. They get to experience the fun and freedom of sliding on the ice - whether they do it in their wheelchairs, on sleds or standing with adaptive devices. Events such as these let kids be kids - regardless of their abilities or challenges.”

On the event, State Representative Fiola was quoted as saying “Today was probably one of my most rewarding as a State Rep. Our Universal Access Skating event was extremely well attended by boys and girls and men and women who all had a ball skating, many of them for the very first time. I will be urging DCR to include this activity in their schedule for next year.”

For the majority of the Crystal Springs’ students in attendance, it was in fact their very first experience on the ice. It is our hope that in addition to our legislative leaders, other members in the community will also see the value in these types of events and support future efforts to provide activities such as this.