SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - A group of 40 visually impaired children had a ball with the Florida Panthers, as they learned about a fun, new take on hockey.

These children needed a more hands-on approach to learn about sports, and the Panthers made that happen when they hosted the young visitors at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. on Friday morning.

The Florida Panthers have always had a clear message that hockey is for everyone.

Among their many outreach programs to make that possible in our community, there’s one that made this day special for these kids.

The team hosted a special hockey clinic for visually impaired children. The students played and enjoyed hockey as part of their experience.

“I’m actually having pretty good fun right now, me and my friends are just hitting the balls around with these pucks,” said participant Jamina Dayen. “It’s actually – I’m enjoying myself, I’m having a good time.”

Virginia Jacko, CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, said she felt grateful to see the visually impaired children playing hockey.

“So grateful that the Florida Panthers are including visually impaired children in learning the game of hockey,” she said.

The students at the hockey clinic used tailor-made floorball equipment — no pucks, but balls with bells inside them — and were given a locker room touch tour.

“We are so, so lucky to have the wonderful group of kids here today from Miami Lighthouse, to show them what it’s like to play hockey in South Florida,” said Matt Smith, community relations manager for the Panthers, “and what better way to use FLA Live Arena during the offseason than for this purpose?”

The Panthers are in partnership with the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Lighthouse of Broward, recipients of several grants from the Florida Panthers Foundation.

“The Florida Panthers have collaborated with Miami Lighthouse for quite a number of years, with our free eye care program throughout the state to prevent blindness,” said Jacko, “and for the last several years, they’ve included our summer camp teenagers in experiencing hockey.”

The Lighthouse of Broward’s mission is to provide leadership and services needed to improve the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired in the county.

“The enthusiasm is fantastic, and they’re gonna tell everybody back at Miami Lighthouse,” said Jacko, “and they’re gonna go home tonight and say to their parents, ‘I played hockey today.'”

Jacko said the organization will be invited back next year for another arena experience

Since 2018, this is something the Panthers have done for this group to experience the great game of hockey in a different but rewarding way.

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