Win 4 Kids Finalist- Victor Lauriston School

Victor_Lauriston_School_Photo-_600pxl.jpgAs Canadians, many of us take ice-skating for granted. Hockey is our national sport, but we forget there are kids who can’t afford the basic equipment, including skates and helmets.

Victor Lauriston Public School in Chatham runs a winter skating program that enables students in grades 3 to 8 to try skating. As part of the program, students get a chance to visit the local skating arena approximately five times a year.

“We have many kids at the school who would otherwise not be able to participate in curling and skating activities because they don’t own the equipment,” said Erin Van De Wiele, principal of Victor Lauriston Public School.

Approximately 80 per cent of the students don’t own their own skates or helmets, so the school loans them the equipment for the winter months. Kids even get to take their skates home so they can go skating in their spare time. Skates and helmets are returned in April when the local rink removes the ice.

Each year the school purchases a skating pass that allows teachers to book ice time at the Memorial Arena. Students walk to the arena and skate for approximately an hour at a time. Without the equipment loan program, most of the students would have to sit on the sidelines.

Principal Van De Wiele says, the challenge is that helmets have an expiry date and the skates are quickly becoming worn and unusable.

“With this many students wearing the skates and helmets year after year, the equipment wears out and becomes outdated. Funding would enable us to replenish the equipment more regularly.”

Funds from GoodLife Kids Foundation would be used to offset the cost of the skating pass, skate and helmet replacement and skate sharpening to ensure students can continue to glide smoothly.

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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