October 9, 2002
Project START grant helps get state's first sled hockey team on the ice
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Mississippi Project START—a program designed to ensure disabled Mississippians have access to assistive technology—has made a donation of $12,788 to Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s therapeutic recreation program to help fund its new sled hockey team for physically challenged athletes.
The money will be used to acquire new equipment including helmets, pads and sleds, said Ginny Boydston, director of therapeutic recreation at Methodist Rehab.
“This is a wonderful thing for us,” said Boydston. “One of the hardest things about starting a new sports team is getting it up and running. This grant will really help sled hockey take off in Mississippi.”
The new team held its first clinic weeks ago when members of the U.S. gold medal-winning paralympic team came to Jackson to teach prospective players the game.
More than 20 physically challenged athletes from around Mississippi attended the three-day camp where they watched footage of the U.S. team’s gold medal victory in Salt Lake City, figured out how to get into their sleds and pads and learned the rules of the ice.
Disabled hockey players sit on lightweight metal sleds and use hockey sticks with picks attached to skate around the ice. The rules are the same as in any other ice hockey game.
“It was a blast,” said Kevin Kimble, a paraplegic of Ridgeland. “It’s a fun and fast-paced game to play and we were learning from the best in the world so that made it even better.”
Sled hockey is only the latest sport offered by Methodist Rehab to Mississippi’s disabled.
For years, the Jackson hospital has offered disabled snow and water skiing as well as rock climbing, quad rugby, wheelchair racing, handcycling and triathlon.
“We’re proud to be able to make activities like hockey more accessible to the athletes in Mississippi,” said Steve Power, Project START director. “Anything that brings people with disabilities into contact with technology that helps them lead active and healthy lives is something that we’re happy to support.”
Hockey isn’t the first sport that Project START has helped Methodist Rehab with. When the hospital’s quad rugby team needed equipment, Project START donated money to help.
“They have been a blessing to us,” said Boydston. “Whenever we’ve needed them, they’ve been there.”
Project START operates under the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services and conducts assistive technology training throughout the year. Its staff holds assistive technology presentations for employees of the department of rehabilitation, nursing schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities. They also fund conferences and conventions that provide assistance to people with disabilities.
For more information about sled hockey and other sports for the disabled, log on to methodistonline.org. For more information about Mississippi Project START, go to www.msprojectstart.org.
Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist Rehabilitation Center, left, accepts a $12,788 check from Steve Power, Project START director, and Stephanie Tucker, public information coordinator at the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, as Jackson Bandits players look on.