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It started as a casual conversation on how to encourage students to skate and ended with 189 students having access to 70 pairs of skates, three storage units, and 30 hockey helmets! This afternoon, St. Paul High School launched a community initiative that allows every student who has never skated or who doesn’t have skates the opportunity to participate in Canada’s favourite winter past-time – skating!

St. Paul Physical Education Teacher, Kendra Hollingsworth, Principal, Brid McDonald, and parent volunteer Andrea Guzzo Lehman, spent countless hours approaching community foundations, visiting second-hand stores and appealing to the community to donate used skates.

Their dedication paid off. Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) Foundation donated $6,000 to the campaign. OSEG’s mission is to leverage the power of sport to improve the lives of children and youth.

The foundation donated funds based on the premise that St. Paul High School’s initiative would:

  • increase youth participation in sports programs;
  • expand capacity in the sport for children and youth; and
  • strengthen infrastructure and sports development.

In short, the OSEG Foundation helps develop programs and initiatives to get more kids off the sidelines and into the game.

The dynamic trio ensured every dollar donated was well spent. The average cost of each pair of skates was $6.00. The organizers wiped out most second-hand stores across the city – who offered deep discounts when they realized the skates and helmets would be used to promote – learning to skate. Even the signage for the event was donated.

While the Learn to Skate program will start small in physical education classes on a City of Ottawa public rink, the ultimate goal is to create a skate lending program whereby students can borrow skates for the weekend. There is even a hoped-for mentoring program that will include feeder elementary schools lead by St. Paul High School student leaders. The organizers believe the possibilities are endless.