Regional Connection's Learn to Skate program was offered for the first time in Winkler this year. The program has been running successfully in Altona and Morden for a few years, according to Winkler SWIS worker, Aubrey Krahn.
In addition, Krahn said a Jumpstart grant also covered the cost of a brand new pair of skates and a new helmet for each new skater in the program. Newcomer children from the Congo, Ukraine, and Syria enjoyed the first Learn to Skate class in Winkler - and at first - Krahn says there were some nerves to shake off.
"At the beginning, these kids didn't know how to skate, so we actually had some volunteers from one of our local high schools come, and they were able to teach the kids the basic kind of skills with skating. And today (Friday), being our finale, most of these kids now can skate without the skating supports, and they're feeling a lot more comfortable with skating...hopefully we can continue to do things through winter and teach them some more skills."
Abdulmelik Abdullah was part of Winkler's 'Learn to Skate' class and said he learned how to stop on the ice, and also play soccer on the ice. which was a lot of fun. He said soccer is his favorite sport, so he likes to throw it in whenever he can.
Abdullah's younger brother, Vasim was touted as the strongest skater on the ice.
While the Abdullah family lived in Turkey at one point, Vasim learned to skate, enabling him to help teach the others in his class.
Following last Friday's finale, Ani Manukyan, a translator for Vasim shared about his love of all sports, but said "skating is special, and he loves to skate as fast as he can."
Manukyan also echoed Vasim's passion for skating and said he already displays a strong ability to teach others.
During their finale on Friday, the newcomer students were all presented with a certificate for their achievements accomplished over their five, 1 - hour sessions at the rink.