Zaiden Burke took to a local group page on Facebook – Saturday – to complain about being kicked off the ice by an attendant about five minutes after he hit the rink with his friends. Burke uses a sledge on the ice.
“I am in full control of my sled and am not a danger to others,” he said, explaining he has cerebral palsy. “I am wondering if someone could help me fight this discrimination that someone with a disability is not allowed to public skate. It’s not OK.”
Parks Manager Carol Sheridan reached out to Burke immediately after learning about the incident and invited him back to the rink for any public skate.
The no-sledge policy during public skates is a dated one that she inherited, according to Sheridan, one she could only guess lumped sledges in with other sports equipment like hockey sticks.
“We’ve never had someone who wants to use a sledge on the ice, and now that we do, darn tootin’ we are going to review our policy because we want Zaiden to skate,” she said.
“It’s really unfortunate that the incident had to happen before it came to light that we had to review that policy, but the skate attendant was following what he was trained to do,” She reiterated that the issue has never been raised before, and Zaiden was back on the ice Monday with his family during a public skate.
“To have someone, an athlete no less like Zaiden who is in complete control of his speed and himself out on the ice, if there is a risk associated with that, it’s a risk I’m willing to take in order for us to be more accessible,” Sheridan said.
“We don’t want people to be turned away because they need another piece of equipment. We are going to do our jobs to review the policy and create a language that is more inclusive.”
*Oliver Parks and Recreation Society is a joint service of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
Source: Facebook, and files from Castanet
Picture Source: Zaiden Burke and Global Okanagan