With the help of a grant, a group of committed volunteers and an enthusiastic curler with a big idea, Comox Valley Curling Club has introduced over 280 kids to curling this year.
MICKEY COLBURN, the driving force behind the Club’s Junior Learn to Curl program, tells us how they did it.
“As a retired school district employee, I was aware that our grade 5 students had the chance to try a different sport for four-weeks as part of their classes and that typically they would go to the mountain to do cross-country skiing. About a year ago I heard that some schools might be looking for something different so I began putting together a proposal to run a program that allowed the kids to try curling. I sent this off to the school board and it was approved. I was then asked to present my ideas to all of the principals in the area and some of the schools were keen.
Once I knew that I had some interest, I began planning the program in detail and applied for a grant from ViaSport. Applying for the grant wasn’t the easiest process but we received $1,500 which we used to buy 50 pairs of curling shoes for the kids to wear to preserve the ice. I had to do a lot of research to ensure we bought enough of the right sizes and our head ice tech was really pleased we got the shoes; after the first lesson he was amazed that despite almost 100 kids being on the ice it wasn’t damaged at all!
I also had to recruit some volunteers to help coach the children so I had a message emailed to club members and put on Facebook saying that we were going to be running a Junior Learn To Curl program and we needed some help and 30 people signed up. Because the schools come in on Tuesday and Friday mornings, a lot of the volunteers are retired and it is great to see the kids having the chance to learn from the experienced curlers. All of the volunteers have been great, it wouldn’t have been possible to stage the sessions without their help.
For the first session we had over 100 kids who came from the school I used to work at. They loved it, they were really pumped to be there trying something new. Since then we have run sessions with a second school and we have another five, possibly six, schools lined-up to come in between now and the end of March.
Each school attends four sessions in which we talk to them about the game, cover what the goals are and teach them about etiquette. Our aim isn’t to get them to be Olympic curlers, it is to teach them to like the game and for them to want to come back.
When I applied for the grant, I was asked what our target outcomes of the program would be. I said that firstly it would be to introduce 100 kids to curling, if some of those kids register for our Junior League, that would be the second goal. I then said I would like some of the kids to bring their family or friends curling, and my last goal was for some of them to curl later in life.
In total we expect to have over 300 students attend the sessions this year, and we had two kids bring their parents along to curl on Family Day so we have achieved the first two goals already!
I definitely want the kids to keep on curling and have invited them all to come to our JamCan which we hold at the end of the season. Last year it was a really fun event with 16 teams taking part and 20 curlers signed up for our Junior League so hopefully that will happen again.
I am already looking forward to next year, we already have two schools who want to sign up and hopefully many more will too.