Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Capital City Condors - A Tremendous Hockey Program For Ottawa Children With Special Needs

Ryan and Isaac
This article first appeared in the January 2011 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper.

As Lachute, Quebec prepares to host the 33rd edition of their annual hockey tournament, I thought a great way to start 2011 here at Main Street would be to share an inspirational hockey story. Through my work at The Hockey Writers, I discovered the Capital City Condors - A hockey program in Ottawa for children with physical and learning disabilities. It is a truly remarkable team, helping children with special needs explore their love of hockey as they discover a newfound confidence off the ice.

Growing up in a country with a rich hockey history, we often take for granted that we can lace up our skates, join our local team and dream about playing in the NHL one day. For some of us, the dream ends abruptly with the realization that you do not skate very well - and never will (me for example!), but the opportunity is there. What if your child had a disability and was not eligible to play on the local team, in love with the game but having to remain on the sidelines watching their brothers and sisters play? For Ottawa area kids, that all changed three years ago thanks to Jim and Shana Perkins.

“The success of the Condors is not how great these kids become on the ice,” Jim Perkins explained. “It is being part of a team, having a team jersey with their name and their favourite number on it. It is all about as much of their dream as possible coming true. Some of them will make a lot of progress (on the ice), we have seen that, and some of them won’t, but that’s okay.”

“We get so much out of this, the interaction with the kids and their parents. Many of these parents are like heroes to us – the tenderness that they demonstrate to their kids. It has been really moving for us. It is a great thing to be involved in, a ton of work, but we get a lot out of it in return. This isn’t just a team, it is a community.”

In their first year, Jim and Shana welcomed three children into the Condors program, now there are 40 participants and a waiting list. They would like to see the program expand in Ottawa and perhaps into Gatineau as well. The Capital City Condors fall under the umbrella of Special Hockey, an international organization dedicated to enriching the lives of special needs children through hockey. Besides playing and practising locally, they take part in a tournament each year.

Matt Carkner and Zachary

“Last year we went to our first tournament in Orangeville, Ontario and there were around fifty teams there,” Perkins said. “This year’s tournament is in Marlborough, Massachusetts and we are going to go down and participate in that. They do these up right too, they march each team in and they have team flags; it is done really, really well.”

“The following year, the tournament is in London, England, 2013 is in Kitchener, Ontario and we have put a bid in for 2014 to host the event here in Ottawa. They like to jump back and forth between Canada and the US and every fifth year it is London.”

With the help of a tremendous group of volunteers, which includes Ottawa Senators defenceman Matt Carkner, Jim and Shana Perkins are helping to enrich the lives of these children through hockey; it is a truly inspirational program.

You can find more information about the Capital City Condors at their website:

1 comment:

Steve Kendall said...

My son plays for a similar team in Massachusetts called the East Coast Jumbos. The men and women who commit their time and efforts to help these kids explore their love of hockey should be commended. The Bruins are huge supporters of the Jumbos, and they deserve kudos as well!

Thanks for sharing!