From now on in Phoenix, December 3 will be recognized as the international day initially created by the United Nations to promote inclusion and empowerment of disabled people. Taking this to heart, Stanton spoke on the importance of accessibility and empowerment for disabled people and congratulated the Coyotes Sled Hockey team on their win at this year’s USA Hockey Sled Classic in Miami.
“We continue to fight to make our city better for everyone, but we have more work to do,” said Stanton at the event at the CityScape Holiday Ice Rink in downtown Phoenix on Thursday.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was created by the UN in 1992 to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion and empowerment of disabled people around the world. The UN encourages governments, communities, and organizations around the world to organize events to commemorate the day. The theme for this year’s day is “inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities,” according to the UN website.
Stanton took the opportunity to meet with and congratulate the Coyotes Sled Hockey team’s championship victory as well.
“While our Arizona Coyotes hockey team has not yet brought home the Stanley Cup, our Arizona Coyotes sled team did win the 2015 USA Sled Classic,” Stanton said. Stanton went on to call the team “hometown heroes.”
The team won the final game in the national championship on November 22, beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-0. The victory was the team’s first national championship win, said Guido Schmid, a forward for the Coyotes.
“When I go to the national mayor’s conference meeting, I can say definitively that my sled hockey team is better than yours,” Stanton said.
Sled hockey is similar to ice hockey and follows most of the same rules; the difference is the equipment. Players sit in sleds that have two hockey blades on the bottom and propel themselves over the ice with two sticks. The game was invented in Stockholm in the 1960s by a group of people who wanted to play hockey despite their disabilities, according to the USA Hockey website. The game is still full contact and fast paced.
Schmid said he disliked sled hockey when he first tried it, but found the camaraderie important to him. Schmid also said he travels around the world on missions to raise awareness for disability. He ranked the US at the top for accessibility.
“[The championship] raises awareness for disability and gave us the chance to represent that. It’s an honor,” said Schmid.