Erin Kang skates during summer skating lessons at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Parks and rec’s Rec Skate program is also offered to students in Nanaimo.

Erin Kang skates during summer skating lessons at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Parks and rec’s Rec Skate program is also offered to students in Nanaimo.

ACTIVE LIFE: Program provides school skating

NANAIMO – Grant helps classes from Nanaimo schools afford rink time.

The cooler temperatures and passage into September in the Harbour City means that people can shift recreation activities from hot weather to cold.

It also means a return to school for students and Gary Paterson, city arenas coordinator, said the Rec Skate lesson program for schools is benefiting from an RBC Learn to Play program grant.

Applying the $10,000 grant to the school program allows the Parks, Recreation and Environment department to decrease fees, making it more affordable.

Students are having to rely on parent advisory councils to fundraise for activities and lower prices are of benefit, Paterson said. If dollars can go further, more kids can participate.

“We’re looking at about a 25- to 30-per cent reduction on a per-child basis, so every class lesson is set up based on how many children they bring,” said Paterson. “We’ve been seeing two different classrooms coming at the same time, with maybe up to 56 kids, giving them that opportunity to have that learn-to-skate program in the daytime.”

Pricing differs from school to school, as each school comes with specific needs.

“They tell us what they’re looking for and we try to find a way to accommodate those needs,” said Paterson.

Skating lessons offer opportunities for students, especially those new to Canada. Paterson said a lot of new Canadians moving to the community might not be familiar with skating.

“A lot of times … it’s not part of their natural culture to want to come out and do skating, so if they get it as part of a school lesson program, they’re pretty much committed to doing it and they leave here sometimes very excited and wanting to find out more about how to get into hockey or a figure skating club,” Paterson said.

For more information, please call 250-755-7537.

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