Parasport Jumpstart Fund helps Para ice hockey community grow in Manitoba

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 22, 2018

Parasport Jumpstart Fund helps Para ice hockey community grow in Manitoba



Every week, 60 participants of all age groups and abilities strap into their sledges and hit the ice in Winnipeg for some fun and exciting Para ice hockey action. 

Sledge Hockey Manitoba has created its own community in Winnipeg. Run through the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, the program was one of the recipients of a Parasport Jumpstart Fund grant last year. As a not-for-profit organization, funding support enables the program to maintain viability and grow, such as purchasing more equipment for its growing participant base. 

“A lot has morphed out of it,” says organizer Bill Muloin, who originally started the program with six players in 2007. “I do clinics for schools, I’ll bring out sledge equipment and run tutorials for the students which helps with disability awareness. I’m a big believer in empowering the athletes we have, so when we have opportunities for them to go on the ice and showcase their talent I’ll bring them in to some of the school groups.”

He also runs a summer camp called Sledge to Physical Literacy, where kids can play Para ice hockey as well as other para sports like badminton, wheelchair tennis, swimming, and archery. 

His goals were to introduce the sport to his community, and provide a chance for kids with disabilities to play sport and gain physical skills. It has grown exponentially, now offering three categories (introductory, intermediate, and advanced) for participants. Three of his players recently participated in Hockey Canada’s developmental camp. 

“One of the things we wanted to do was we wanted to make sure it was inclusive, that all capacities and abilities can play,” Muloin said. “We have about 15 or 16 people who don’t have disabilities that play. We also wanted to break down attitudes and barriers sometimes when it comes to individuals with a disability and how people without disabilities view them.”
At the Bell MTS Iceplex where they play, his sport is on display for all visitors to watch. People know about Para ice hockey and it’s helped to make facilities think more about accessibility as well.

“One parent told me at a tournament, when he brought in his little boy who has spina bifida, I think he was five at the time. He came in to visit the rink and he came in for the first time and saw all these walkers and wheelchairs, and saw these kids on the ice and said this is so cool, I haven’t found anywhere where he’s got peers where he belongs in this number.” 

With thank to grants like the Parasport Jumpstart Fund, Muloin plans on implementing new initiatives as the program looks forward. He is going to run a mini-tournament this Christmas for the younger kids, dedicate ice time to female-only development, and further the leadership skills of his players by employing two of them at this year’s summer camp.   

It’s a job Muloin is very passionate about, as Sledge Hockey Manitoba continues to grow. 
“What I get a lot, and probably more in my entire lifetime that most people get in theirs, are smiles and gleans in their eyes. Every day when I’m tired, I get back on the ice and I have so much fun with the kids, I always say to myself I’m pretty fortunate, I’m pretty lucky to be around them all.” 

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