It has always been a major goal of the Rocks & Rings program to find ways to introduce more kids to curling by reaching a greater and more diverse audience from coast to coast. The challenge of reaching this goal has been overcome little by little over the years, most recently with the introduction of our Rental program and “In The Classroom”, our curling-themed online education portal, which has allowed us to reach some of even the most remote Canadian communities.
There has been no greater example of this reach than our recent visit to three schools in Iqaluit, Nunavut. In May of 2022, we worked together with Curling Canada to organize a week-long visit to the territory’s capital. Four sets of FloorCurl equipment were shipped to Iqaluit along with a visit by one of our long-time Rocks & Rings instructors who spent three days teaching students in three schools all about the sport of curling. This event was part of the Curling Canada and Rock Solid Productions partnership, collaborating on philanthropic opportunities to give youth across Canada an introduction to curling who might not otherwise have the chance.
The visit to Joamie School on May 3rd was especially exciting for Grade One student, Clare MacDonald, who showed an interest in joining the junior curling program at the Iqaluit Curling Club two years prior; just weeks before the global pandemic shut down the programs. Scott MacDonald, Clare’s dad and principal of Joamie School, said that Clare had seen curling on a YouTube video when she was just 4 years old and became enamored with the idea of giving it a try. Clare’s babysitter, Lena, was already a part of the local junior curling program and was happy to help show Clare the ropes. But with the arrival of the pandemic, Clare’s time on the ice was cut short. Two years later, at the time of the Rocks & Rings visit to her school, the local junior curling programs were finally starting back up and Clare was back on the ice every week with students from K-12. As for curling in the school gym with Rocks & Rings, Clare says she loved having the chance to try curling with her school friends. (Prior to the program’s visit, none of Clare’s classmates had been involved with curling at their local curling rink.) Principal MacDonald said that he hopes this translates into an increased participation rate at Iqaluit Curling Club among school-aged kids, laying a strong foundation for Nunavut’s participation in the sport nationally.
Feedback from the schools was positive. Principal MacDonald states that he noticed a curiosity about the sport among the students and staff that was emphasized by the teachers sticking around to watch the fun in the gym rather than taking the time to catch up on other work while their students were in Phys Ed. He also noted the level playing field, pointing out that the students, no matter what age or athletic ability, were engaged and participating in higher numbers than more mainstream sports like basketball or soccer. The feedback was so positive at Joamie school that Mike Leone, the school’s PE teacher, organized a school-wide tournament with the equipment for the following week after seeing how well the activity was received.
As our programs reach more and more communities across the country through initiatives like this one, we will see growth in participation in the sport of curling – not just in numbers, but in diversity. And through this growth, we will strive to achieve the goal of our sport becoming a true reflection of the population of Canada – inclusive, diverse, and a safe place for everyone.
Contact us to learn more about how to bring Rocks & Rings to your school or community, and how we can work together to help those students hit the ice.
Thanks to our generous sponsors & partners for the major part they play in making all this possible.
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