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Inspiring Week at CNIB Lake Joe with Mark DeMontis and Canadian Blind Hockey

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This week, CNIB Lake Joe, in collaboration with Canadian Blind Hockey, wrapped up an inspiring Camp Abilities Blind Hockey program. From July 1-6, 2024, youth ages 8-18 who are blind or have vision loss gathered at the camp to learn and play the sport of Blind Hockey, focusing on skill development and cultivating a love for the game.

The highlight of the week was the visit from Mark DeMontis, founder of Canadian Blind Hockey and the 2024 recipient of the NHL’s Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award. DeMontis joined the camp on July 3 and 4, sharing his journey and inspiring the young athletes. He spoke about the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, symbolizing what can be achieved through dedication and community support.

Throughout the week, participants engaged in activities designed to enhance their hockey skills and build confidence. On-ice sessions were held at Humphrey Arena in Parry Sound, ON, while off-ice activities took place at CNIB Lake Joe in MacTier, ON. Special ball hockey sessions, featuring National Team players as mentors, added excitement and learning opportunities.

Eugene Chong, General Manager of CNIB Lake Joe, expressed his gratitude for the ongoing support from Canadian Blind Hockey and the impact of the Camp Abilities Blind Hockey program. "Every child deserves the chance to experience the thrill of playing sports," Chong stated. "This program not only teaches valuable skills but also instills confidence and fosters a sense of community among participants."

Introduced at CNIB Lake Joe in 2022, the Camp Abilities Blind Hockey program has grown significantly, attracting more participants each year. The program's success is due to the collaboration between CNIB and Canadian Blind Hockey, with dedicated staff and volunteers working together to create a supportive and accessible environment for all participants.

Mark DeMontis highlights the remarkable journey of camp participants, many of whom are experiencing Blind Hockey for the first time. "Some have never held a hockey stick before, yet they're engaged, asking questions, and learning the game," he shares. "The future of Blind Hockey hinges on the passion and determination of these youth. Supporting their development is my daily motivation. Winning the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award is a testament to our community's dedication to advancing Blind Hockey as a Paralympic sport."


The event concluded with a celebration of the participants' achievements, highlighting the skills they developed and the friendships they formed. The Camp Abilities Blind Hockey program continues to pave the way for more inclusive sporting opportunities for youth with vision loss across Canada.

About CNIB Lake Joe

Established in 1961, CNIB Lake Joe is the only camp of its kind for Canadians with sight loss and their families. At CNIB Lake Joe, children are encouraged to shine, youth are empowered to thrive, and kids of all ages enjoy recreational pursuits. With a focus on creating enriching camp experiences, our accessible and inclusive programs foster personal growth while enriching lives, making memories, and building independence. To learn more, visit cniblakejoe.ca.

About Canadian Blind Hockey

Canadian Blind Hockey is the national sports organization for the Para sport of Blind Hockey in Canada. We are a charity that changes the lives of children and youth who are blind or partially sighted by providing Blind Hockey programming, including introductory try-it sessions, development camps, regional and national competitions, and by supporting the Canadian National Blind Hockey Team. For more information, please visit canadianblindhockey.com.

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