The City of Nanaimo Parks and Recreation department is expanding its Spare Blox youth drop-in program to include ice rinks. Pictured here, Cindy Diamente, city skating instructor, Megan Lum, recreation coordinator and Gary Paterson, arenas coordinator. (KARL YU/The News Bulletin)

Active Life: Spare Blox are for cool kids

City of Nanaimo Parks and Recreation youth drop-in program expands to ice rinks

The City of Nanaimo Parks and Recreation department Spare Blox youth drop-in program is about to enter the ice age.

The program offers children a chance to get active, but while the Spare Blox (13 to 17 years old) and Spare Blox Junior (ages 11-14) programs run in the evenings at John Barsby Secondary and Fairview Elementary schools respectively, parks and rec is expanding with the Spare Blox Arena program (ages 10-15) from 7:15-8:15 a.m Friday mornings at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

Participants will have access to a free open skating session and a healthy snack before heading off to school. Much like its sibling programs, Spare Blox Arena participants will have a say in programming, said Megan Lum, city recreation coordinator.

“It’s free, it’s meant to be an activity-based program and it’s meant to be, in some ways, geared [toward] what the kids’ interests are,” said Lum. “They can choose and have some flexibility and freedom with what their activities are.”

“We will be bringing out all of our resources that we have available,” said Gary Paterson, city arenas coordinator. “There’s the hoops the kids can play with, there’s some hockey equipment so we’re really … reaching out to what their desires are. So if they come in there and they just want to skate around and be by themselves a little bit and get ready for the day or if they want to interact, have a little bit of a game, they can play some hockey.

“We have a leader on the ice who will also lead them through some circuits and just sort of play with them, could be a small lesson.”

Lum said the idea for Spare Blox Arena came through a funding opportunity from the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, which was geared toward before- and after-school programming.

“Essentially those kind of down times when kids might not have their families at home with them,” said Lum. “They might be killing time, they might be dropped off early because mom and dad go to work, and so they’re just hanging out in the school lobby. Well let’s fill that time and the same with after school, and so the before-school skating became a great option with the Nanaimo Ice Centre just because it was so physically close to Nanaimo District Secondary School, so that was a big piece in developing that.”

Spare Blox Arena, for children ages 10-15, is held Fridays from 7:15-8:15 a.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Spare Blox Junior, ages 11-14, Mondays from 7-8:30 p.m. at Fairview Community School. Spare Blox, ages 13-17, takes place Wednesdays from 8-9:30 p.m. at John Barsby Secondary School. Programs run until the end of May.

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