April O'Neil / news@WHMI.com

A unique opportunity for elementary and middle-school aged kids who are interested in learning to play hockey is coming to Livingston County.

In partnership with local sponsors and donated ice-time from the Kensington Valley Ice House and Hartland Sports Center & Bounce Gymnastics, the 2023 Hockey Challenge Camp gives kids with unique medical and learning needs the chance to participate in skill-building classes with local hockey players and coaches.

Hockey Challenge Camp, set to take place August 7-10, provides both on and off-ice instruction with coaches and “hockey buddies” who volunteered to work one-on-one with players on the ice and as peer mentors.

Sarah Dunkel-Jackson is a hockey coach and Researcher at the Michigan State University Autism & Disabilities (RADD) Lab. She told WHMI, Challenge Camp was designed to give every kid the chance to learn the game.

"Our players include anyone with a unique learning or medical need. We have some kids with ADHD, autism, downs syndrome, and physical impairments, so the range of needs is very open. If it’s difficult for the child to participate in a traditional team setting, we want to give them an opportunity to still play this sport and hone-in on their skills, so one day, they are participating on a team or house league.”

The 3-day Hockey Challenge Camp includes adapted on-ice and off-ice instruction, snacks, and lunch. At the end of the week on August 10, players will participate in a game against fellow camp members at MSU’s Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.

Skate rental and equipment rental may also be an option for families if needed. Dunkel-Jackson said camp coordinators will do as much as possible to get every player ready for practice.

“It’s scary to think about starting a new sport or activity, especially if you’re not sure if your child will enjoy or feel immediate success. But, it’s amazing to watch child learn new skills, friendships, and do all the things that kids who maybe don’t have those unique learning needs, get to do. Hockey should be for everyone, and that’s what we are going to provide.”

A link to the Hockey Challenge Camp Facebook page is provided and ARC Livingston webpage are both provided.

There is also an attachment to the event flyer with a list of sponsors and QR Code for registration.

Hockey Challenge Camp logo courtesy of Hystyx.