Innovative Product Helps Kids with Special Needs Learn to Skate
Product: Tornado’s Edge is an on-ice skate trainer that helps children of all abilities to enhance skills on skates. The current product is intended for a training environment where one to four individuals can use the trainer together. There is an individual version of the trainer called the Twister that will be available at a later date.
The Inspiration: The Edge was inspired by a young hockey player’s struggle with learning to skate. Dillon was diagnosed at a young age with high-functioning autism. That didn’t stop Dillon from wanting to play hockey. It also meant that learning skating concepts were a bit more challenging. Dillon’s father, Derek, was the coach of the team. This allowed Derek to give that extra effort to teach Dillon the required skills. However, it was tough to physically hold his son for extended periods of time while Dillon gained the comfort he needed. The concept of a “horse trainer” for kids was brewing in Derek’s head for years. After prototyping the idea in 2016, the concept quickly turned into a product that can be used by all children regardless of their abilities.
In the News
The story was picked up by a local news outlet and the news segment was quickly circulated on social media. It was then that Philip Rauchbach of the Monarchs knew he wanted a trainer for his organization. The Monarchs is a non-profit collaborative initiative to enable participation in organized youth sports programs. They run several programs for athletes with special needs including Learn to Skate and Special Hockey. Philip was the first visionary to see how the trainer could benefit children in the types of programs the Monarchs offer to the special needs community in New Jersey. Up to this point, the trainer had only been used for regular minor hockey programs.
Access to the Trainer
The Tornado’s Edge is currently only available at skating arenas that have the trainer. The first step is to talk to your local arena or minor hockey organization. By increasing awareness within the community, access to hockey programs can use a resource like a trainer to allow more children to participate. Personal versions of the trainer will debut in the near future. Watch for developments on the Tornado’s Edge social media presence.
This article was featured in Issue 67 – Preparing for Adulthood With Autism