Open-skate program provides adaptive sled

SUNY Oswego’s Skate Shop has become the first among SUNY schools to offer the use of an adaptive ice sport sled to participants in its open-skate sessions.

Student demonstrates adaptive ice sled.Designed for those with mobility-related disabilities, the adaptive ice sport sled is a specialized device that has two ice skate blades mounted on a bracket that supports a metal frame and plastic seat. The sled’s frame is adjustable to accommodate a wide range of user sizes. With the sled are two short hockey sticks equipped with small picks. These allow sled users to maneuver around the ice using only their upper body strength.

For those who aren’t able to use their upper body to propel themselves, the sled also includes an optional pusher bar. This allows a personal aid to push the sled user around the ice.

Tim Graber, skate shop manager, said he was inspired to pursue the acquisition of the adaptive ice sport sled through his involvement with the Erik Cole Dream Big Foundation’s summer hockey event, which brought the U.S. national sled hockey team to the Campus Center arena in 2009.

Graber’s first step was to contact Starr Knapp, the college’s coordinator for disability services, who immediately embraced the idea and provided guidance on how they could best move forward with it.

Alumnus helps

Graber then sought the help of Greg Callen, a 1999 graduate of Oswego and founder of the non-profit organization Move Along Inc. Callen provided technical expertise not only as an advocate of recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, but also as an accomplished sled hockey player.

Meanwhile, Knapp got Howard Gordon, executive assistant to President Deborah F. Stanley, on board with the effort. Together, the group collaborated on an original set of guidelines for the use of the sled during open skate sessions.

“The main goal of this program is to provide persons with disabilities and able-bodied individuals the opportunity for integrated participation in a unique recreational activity,” Graber said. “It’s all about using the upper body, but you don’t have to be an athlete to get moving on the ice.”

The adaptive ice sport sled can be checked out from the Skate Shop during regular open-skate sessions. Staff members will provide instructions for those who are using the sled for the first time. The Skate Shop also offers hockey and figure-style rental skates and skate training aids (walkers) as well as skate sharpening services.

Campus Life operates the Skate Shop in the Campus Center arena. The current schedule for open skate sessions can be found at

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PHOTO CAPTION: Skating help—Senior public relations major Krista Pattemore demonstrates the new adaptive ice sled that the SUNY Oswego Skate Shop at the Campus Center makes available for disabled individuals to enjoy open-skate sessions.

(Posted: Nov 24, 2010)