Play It Forward is very happy to announce that Matt Bennett, a goalie for the Vernon Township High School ice hockey team, will be awarded a Play It Forward Award on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Skylands Ice World.
Over the past two years, Matt has volunteered as an on-ice coach for the Monarchs Special Hockey program. The Monarchs is a program that gives people with physical and developmental disabilities the chance to play the sport of ice hockey in an environment which is adapted to their level of ability.
As an on-ice coach, Matt has worked with many of the athletes and interacts with their parents as well to give them the best opportunity to enjoy this game. However, Matt has told us that the program doesn't just stop at hockey. He has helped individuals learn to figure skate and even plans to help some participants learn speed skating.
According to Rita Mitchell, the general manager at Skylands Ice World, where the Monarchs play, Matt is "well-spoken, articulate and patient. He has an ability to get his message understood by three and five year olds with attention disorders and then have serious discussions regarding their
progress with the child’s parents."
Rita also added, " His patience and positive attitude have helped our young athletes experience something they may have never had the opportunity to do before." Two of the athletes that Matt helped learn to skate have now integrated into the Hockey Head Start program at Skylands and are progressing very well.
Matt told us that the best part of working with the Monarchs was seeing the looks of joy on their faces when everything clicked and they learn to skate on their own. He said one of the biggest challenges is figuring out what approach will work with each individual person. Some learn through explaining, some through showing, and others learn best when he makes a game out of each skill he teaches.
Matt will be attending Stockton University in the Fall of 2017 and playing for the hockey team there. He plans to major in pre-med and physical therapy and plans to pursue a career as a physical therapist.
Matt certainly exemplifies the ideals of the Play It Forward Foundation through his dedication to others and his willingness to pass on this great game to those that may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience it.
Matt will be presented with this award at the Monarch's exhibition prior to the Devils Alumni Charity game at 2:00PM at Skylands Ice World, 2765 State Hwy 23 in Stockholm, NJ. Come support Matt and the Monarchs!
To learn more about the Play It Forward Foundation visit: http://www.playitforwardhockey.com/