Every Monday at noon you can find Peter Buitendyk, CLBC Facilitator, with a hockey stick in hand.
Inspired by a colleague’s initiative, Peter launched his own drop-in floor hockey program last October as a way of creating connection and inclusion in his community of Abbotsford. Today, the program sees about 15 individuals with diverse abilities participate consistently each week.
“One individual travels two hours each way just to get to the program, because he enjoys it so much,” says Peter. “Another individual who would not even come into the facility area in the beginning, now stands with a hockey stick during the warm-ups and even waves to me. Recently he scored a goal. We were all so in shock and proud!”
From passion to thriving program
A personal passion for hockey became a tool for Peter to foster relationships among the people he supports in his role as a facilitator. “I found that many individuals were not socially connected or physically active. A colleague in Surrey, Charles Partridge, previously began a similar program with great results, so I wanted to recreate it here.”
Since the beginning of the program, Charles’ and Peter’s teams have even competed in a friendly tournament together.
Adds Peter, “All the guys have become very close with each other and spend time together outside of our drop-in hours. They don’t want to miss it each week. The more competitive participants have also been very supportive of those who are less skilled, which is great to see.”
“I feel like I’m with a group of friends,” says Tyson Martens, a regular at the program. “It’s somewhere to go play and fit in. Hopefully more people can join. It’s a great place to make friends. Everyone is welcome.”
Danny von Dongen admits his favourite part is “scoring all the goals.”
The team’s goalie, Shaun Pemberton, has been playing hockey since he was six years old and says he enjoys helping teach less experienced participants how to play. “Hockey is a great way to make new friends,” he says, “We hang out as a group to learn hockey and life skills. We always talk about the game – how can we improve, how can we pass better.”
Shaun invites anyone who lives nearby to join a game. “It’s a great place to play hockey and just have fun. Come on down!”
If you or your family member is interested in joining this drop-in hockey program, please see the program details below.
Drop-in Floor Hockey for Individuals with Diverse Abilities
Location: Abbotsford Ag-Rec Centre (Main floor), 32470 Haida Drive, Abbotsford
Date/time: Mondays from 1:00pm-3:00pm.
Age: 18 years and over.
For more information, visit www.abbotsford.ca/prc.
The success of the program is due in part by the support of the City of Abbotsford and additional CLBC staff volunteers Ben Macri, Robby Jefferey, Grant Wilkins, Matt Klassen, and Greg Moffat.
Thank you to program sponsors for their continued support, including Fraserway RV, Mission MCFD, Sportszone, and Canadian Tire.