Hockey program for children with disabilities is catching on

CBC
Derek Tubman helps his six-year-old son, Cole, get ready for a Capital City Condors hockey game.
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Derek Tubman helps his six-year-old son, Cole, get ready for a Capital City Condors hockey game.

A unique hockey program in Ottawa for children with disabilities is getting national and international attention.

The Capital City Condors accept children with physical and intellectual disabilities, many of whom are told they can't play sports and that there's no opportunity for them.

Derek Tubman never thought his six-year-old son, Cole, would be able to play. Cole has a developmental disability, and he was born without a hip socket.

Now, Cole is a member of the team. In five years the program has grown from three members to more than 100, and there are plans to open two new locations in Ottawa.

Then, there are plans to bring the program to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Halifax.

"Everyone wants to see their kid play hockey. Every Canadian does," Derek Tubman said. "It's something you think is something your kid might never do. You can't describe the happiness."

Jim Perkins, the program's co-founder, said the idea started small but grew fast.

"It's way more than we ever anticipated," Perkins said. "It never stops. We don't know where it's going to end.

"It started out just as a dream to get some kids on the ice and give them a chance to play, and then as we met their families, and their families became almost heroes to us, the dream kind of grew," he said.

He said calls are coming in from Finland, Sweden and Germany for advice to start their own, similar programs.

"The power of sport is so huge," said Aaron Robinson, director fan and community development for the Ottawa Senators.

"And I think when you feel part of a team, you feel part of something, that really allows people to grow, especially kids."

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