Ice rink supports disabled residents in Chelmsford

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A NEW skating aid at Chelmsford City Council’s Riverside Ice & Leisure Centre will make the rink more accessible to skaters with disabilities.

Believed to be the first such aid worldwide, the device supports the weight of people who have limited mobility, enabling them to skate for what may be the first time with the support of the ice rink team.

The idea was first thought of by the centre’s Ice Rink Manager, Rick Jones,andwasbroughtto life thanks to £8,000 of funding provided by the Essex County Council Short Breaks for Children team.

Isaac Ogilvie-Jones, 9, who has cerebral palsy, was one of the first to give the new hoist a try when he visited the centre at the end of July.

His mother, Maya, said, “At first I was really nervous. I’ve never come across anything like this before and I wasn’t sure if Isaac would like it or not. However, it was clear from his reaction that he was having a fantastic time and I think it’s just amazing, the opportunities that this will create. It’s great that we will be able to go ice skating as a family.”

Chelmsford City Council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, Councillor Ray Ride, said: “The skating aid is an amazing innovation for creating an ice skating environment that everyone can enjoy and we are extremely proud to be the first facility to have such equipment. Along with our wheelchair ice rink boards, the centre is able to offer a truly inclusive experience for people of all abilities.”

Essex County Councillor Dick Madden, cabinet member for families and children, said: “We were delighted to fund this excellent new facility which makes skating much more accessible to families with children with disabilities. Facilities like this make a huge difference, enabling more families to participate in sport activities.”

Initially, the centre will run sessions two mornings a week. Running from 10am to 12noon, bookings will be 20 minutes in length and there will be a nominal charge of £6 per session to cover staffing costs. You can pre-book these by calling 01245 615050. After school sessions will also be available in the new term.

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