Showing Love on the Ice Rink

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Nine-year-old Jackson Doll of Findlay has never had a playdate, gone to a birthday party or been to a movie theatre, but he has shown his ice-skating skills to a packed arena full of cheers.
Jackson’s mom, Jennifer, decided to enroll her autistic son in the local program, The Gliding Stars, an organization that provides individuals with the opportunity to increase their personal potential through ice-skating. The Doll family began to realize that their previous views on Jackson’s “limitations” were based on the natural desire to protect Jackson and being unsure of the expectations for  a son with a disability.

“Part of me thinks, God, why didn’t I expect more from him all along? I think he can do anything now,” says Jennifer at the conclusion of an emotionally-inspiring documentary about Jackson’s journey into the program. The documentary created by Timber and Frame (formerly Severance Visuals), is posted on the Gliding Stars of Findlay website, www.glidingstars.org/findlay.html, along with a blog written by Jennifer about the family’s gains as participants.

In the documentary, Jennifer says she was feeling hesitant and skeptical as she made her way to the doors of The Cube ice arena with Jackson for that first Sunday afternoon session. “I thought there is no way that Jackson’s going to ice-skate,” she said. “We got out there and put on his ice-skates and HE…. WAS….. MAD!”

Approximately 20 minutes later, and with the help from others to calm and encourage Jackson, he was finally able to venture onto the ice.  Still feeling tense and apprehensive for her son, Jennifer says that about 12 parents came up to her to voice their support.

“Not one person cared that Jackson was screaming,” Jennifer said. “I felt so safe then, in a roomful of people that understood.” Once the session was over, she called her mom to give her the news. “How was it?” asked Jennifer’s mother anxiously. “It was the most horribly wonderful thing I’ve ever done,” she said crying.

The Gliding Stars organization requires that its participants take part in a regular program of instruction and practice, culminating in a demonstration of skills in an end-of-season, on-ice, choreographed, public performance. The staff concentrates on building the motivation, teamwork and increased self-esteem of each participant. The organization was founded in 1994 and Jean Folkerth got the ball rolling to establish Findlay’s chapter in 2002. Continuing the work to change people’s lives is program coordinator, Cindy Bregel.

For information about the Gliding Stars program or to view the documentary, Go Jackson Doll, visit www.glidingstars.org/findlay.html.