Yes, indeed, every child has the right to play. For children whose parents come from warmer lands, winter recreation is a challenge. Although today, ice rinks have become universal and you can skate in the middle of a desert in amusement malls, most parents don’t know how to skate. Therefore, they cannot teach their kids. It is also a matter of affordability.
Well, I didn’t grow up skating. My father was too busy working and my mother was not familiar with it as recreation beyond figure skating on television. I wanted my children to experience everything that I didn’t growing up. I got involved in a community sponsored skating program originally organized by a mother sharing my perspective. She felt that such activities were essential in building a strong character, clear identity and a sense of
belonging. When she decided to focus on other ventures, I took over the program.
Through the generous support of local mosques, associations, businesses and professionals, the program grew and developed. We tried hiring a skate instructor, but it was very difficult recruiting a qualified person for the
hour on a Friday night. After the first season of running the program, my husband Hossam got inspired to skate instead of standing around to freeze on the sideline. He took some private lessons through the City of Mississauga. Once confident that he would not fall in front of people he knew, he laced up to instruct new participants along with our older 2 daughters.
As a family, we have been involved with Muslim Family Fun Skate since 2005. The program has given us an opportunity to meet many people. Hossam and the girls feel that every child’s smile after a few hand held moves is worth giving up the evening. This is a Muslim community sponsored program open to everyone. Most of the rental costs are paid through sponsorship and the difference is made up through a participant honour system of a $2 contribution per skater. We take kids from our neighbourhood and encourage others to do the same. We have also established a skate exchange. Children luck out. Youth and adult sizes are harder to come by. If we had a space to store the skates, this would certainly help people have even greater access to free skates for the season.
We call ourselves GAMMF or “Get Active Mississauga Muslim Families” and welcome volunteers, sponsors, suggestions and feedback. We also encourage other communities to initiate such activities and we are here to share the process. Find us on Facebook at… Let’s keep working together to create a sense of belonging for all children.
Rabia Khedr, MA
Trainer and Consultant