ACTIVE LIFE: Skating lessons prove popular with the help of grant

NANAIMO – Student involvement in skating lessons at Nanaimo's ice rinks has increased, thanks to a $5,000 grant from the RBC Foundation.

Scott Britt takes skating instruction from Britnee Oldfield at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Thanks to a grant from the RBC Foundation

Scott Britt takes skating instruction from Britnee Oldfield at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Thanks to a grant from the RBC Foundation

Student involvement in skating lessons at Nanaimo’s ice rinks has increased thanks to a $5,000 grant from the RBC Foundation.

The City of Nanaimo’s parks and rec department learned that its Learn to Play project application was successful in late September and it will reduce the financial burden on schools in the area this year.

Changes to legislation related to transportation safety and not charging parents extra money for trips led to an attendance drop in the past few years, according to Gary Paterson, arenas coordinator for the City of Nanaimo.

“Last year, we had about 26 (school bookings) and we had 790 children coming through our program for the school year … we’ve already reached that amount and we haven’t even started the new year, so it’s going to be really exciting to see how that plays out,” said Paterson.

He said the program is set up into four-week sets and ice is set aside during the day, with lessons on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The classes are available at Nanaimo Ice Centre and Frank Crane Arena.

“They just contact us, let us know how many classes they would like to bring and how many students in each class and we have a formula for figuring out the cost to do that for them,” Paterson said.

The city had made presentations to schools last May, but there were more takers after the funding was announced.

“Some of them that were on the fence because of the cost were suddenly much more excited about it … it could actually allow for two classes or four classes to come, whereas it wasn’t going to touch as many of the children as it can now,” said Paterson.

The term sedentary is sometimes used to describe the lifestyles of today’s children and promoting physical literacy at an early age is beneficial. Paterson said teaching children to adapt to speed is amongst one of the benefits.

“It starts to tweak children’s ability to think and react very, very quickly, as opposed to other sports that might be a little bit more physical and a bit more static,” he said. “This is one that is really a read-and-react type of environment and of course, the skills are adapted or meet that criteria of the ice and snow environment.”

For more information, please contact Paterson at 250-755-7536 or gary.paterson@nanaimo.ca.