Community Stories

Red Deerians Learn to Skate with C.A.R.E.

January 07, 2020

The Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) recently hosted three days where Red Deerians were welcomed to City of Red Deer skating facilities learn to skate.

For the eighth consecutive year, ‘Learn 2 Skate’ was scheduled over the first week of January so students could take part. The events were open to everyone at no cost, and saw over 100 participants, and over 50 volunteers from C.A.R.E., The City of Red Deer, Red Deer RCMP, and more taking part over the three days. The three day event included C.A.R.E. providing skates and helmets to anyone who needed them, and instruction on how to prepare to skate, including everything from tying their skates tight enough, right up until how to move around the ice.

The afternoon of the first session, held at Servus Arena, began with many new skaters struggling while holding the boards for assistance. After some tips and guidance from the many volunteers on hand, and a fair deal of practice,  the nervousness soon gave away to smiles and laughter as the participants discovered the joy of gliding across the ice. The second session, held outside at Bower Ponds, had skaters feel the joy of skating outdoors, and the final session, at the Riverside Meadows outdoor rink, saw organizers bring some hockey sticks and pucks, and saw the skaters learn the basics of hockey, before playing in a game of shinny.

C.A.R.E.’s ‘Learn to Skate’ program was developed as a way to teach new Canadians and refugees an activity that would help them integrate with the local community. It provides an opportunity for new Canadian youth and their families to learn a new skill that is a big part of Canadian culture.

“Learning to skate can be overwhelming for anyone,” states Brayden Thomson, Settlement Practitioner, Immigrant Youth with C.A.R.E. “Giving refugees and new Canadians the skills to skate opens a lot of opportunities for them to stay active during the winter, and to become active in the community and with their peers.”

18 year old École Secondaire Notre Dame High School student Mohammad Alkilani has been involved with the ‘Learn 2 Skate’ program for three years, having moved to Canada from Jordan in 2016. Mohammad first learned to skate as a participant in the program, and now that he has been skating for a few years, wants to give back to the community the same way that others did to help him learn to skate.

“When I attended in my first year, there were a lot of Canadians here volunteering to help people like me learn to skate,” he recalls. “I find that speaking Arabic helps me connect with some of the new refugees who don’t speak English fluently yet. I think that might help some people be more comfortable here. I am just excited to help more people learn to skate.”

Members of the Red Deer RCMP also volunteered again, as they do every year, including Constable Derek Turner.

“It’s amazing to see how fast they pick it up once they figure out their balance. In a couple of hours, first time skaters can go from holding onto an avid skater to skating around the whole rink by themselves.  I have also seen a few kids end up joining pond hockey,” explains Cst. Turner. “I enjoy representing the RCMP here, by getting involved with our new Canadians, they see that we are people that they can trust, and that we care about them and their families. Taking part in these community events shows people that we are friendly, that we are approachable, and that they can come to us for help if they need to while navigating this new country.”

For more information on other C.A.R.E. youth programs visit the C.A.R.E website.

Learn to Skate CARE 2