“It wasn’t really cold. It was only about minus 10.”
Dhruv sounds like a winter-savvy Canadian talking about his first time on skis. You’d never guess that the 9-year-old had just moved to Edmonton from Bangalore, India a few months earlier.
Along with nearly 100 others from Edmonton area Boys and Girls Clubs, Dhruv got an unforgettable introduction to skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Snow Valley, thanks to Canadian Tire Jumpstart Get In The Game.
Most of the youngsters had little or no experience skiing and snowboarding but they all overcame the first-time jitters with encouragement from Club staff and a lesson made possible by Get In The Game.
Dhruv learned how to master the execution of a snow plow and navigate the snowy slopes—an exciting experience that would likely have been unimaginable a few short months before.
Going to a ski hill to rent equipment and take a lesson is beyond the reach of many families with children and some young people would never get this kind of opportunity without Get In The Game to help overcome barriers to participation in sports and recreation.
Clubs across the country offer this program to expand opportunities for young people, including for a growing number of newcomers to Canada, giving them a chance to try different types of organized physical activities.
In Moncton, for instance, recent immigrants represent nearly half the Club’s membership—up from less than 3 percent in 2008. The Boys & Girls Club of Moncton’s Learn to Skate program is one of the ways they help newcomer youth transition to a new culture and country while they learn to love winter.
In partnership with the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area, 50 youth a year are referred to the Club for support, connections and belonging.
Just like Dhruv, Moncton’s new members have fun and make friends as they also develop their language skills, confidence and understanding of their new home, which helps the whole family feel accepted and learn their way around.
Dhruv is at the McCauley Clubhouse almost every night after school and the staff are delighted to see his initial shyness turn into confidence. His parents are also actively involved with Club activities and Dhruv’s mom is teaching the Club about the delicious variety of Indian cooking.
“Before, I didn’t know there are different types of snow and that you can only make a snowman with a certain kind,” he says sagely. This winter, Dhruv is ready.