Skating on Warm Ice

DARE2act January 10th Skating Party

– from the desk of Cathy Elliott


It’s Friday night. The Zamboni has just finished turning the white snow into a glistening surface. The arches of lights reflect on the ice, and everyone is waiting. It’s silent. Then a whistle blows. You expect a mad rush of blades flashing, as over a hundred bodies jump onto the ice.
What actually happens is absolutely charming. Everyone sort of shuffled on. In slow motion.Image Kids with walker/gliders, guided by their dads, grandmothers with little ones, and a whole generation of urban new Canadians who are skating for the first time in their lives. Grape vining between them all are a few sure-footed experts, skating circles backwards.
The music starts up, bass pounding and everyone is smiling, grimacing, mouths in an “o” as loss of balance is felt. Speed, light and laughter blend us all together.  The air is tropical compared to a couple of days ago. It’s a balmy 5 out in down town Toronto, at the Nathan Phillips Square rink.

The Simplicity of Fun in Financial Learning

Thanks to the TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund, finance expert Andrew Dale and DAREarts, 17 DAREarts GTA graduates are gathering to learn about managing their financial futures. They discussed savings, credit cards and investment. Andrew used the analogy of a high flying athlete, (hockey players, and football heroes) who makes a lot of money but loses it because of bad choices. The kids were engaged thanks to Andy and Lead Teacher Laura MacKinnon. As they nibbled on pizza, they absorbed the financial wisdom that Andrew had to offer.

Then, it was time for the skate rentals and the courage to hit the ice – for some of them, for the first time.

ImageSome of the DARE2act students skate well, some less so. Kasandra, 17, has come back to the bench. She’s changing from her skates into her boots. I ask her if she feels like she’s still moving.  She’s been skating for an hour now. “No, it feels pretty normal.” She lifts her foot and balances on her other one. “This is only the second time I’ve been on skates. That doesn’t feel normal yet. My cousin taught me a month ago.” She looks out at her friends speeding by, some of them holding each other up. “You take one step. Then another. Then you move like this…like this…” she demonstrates. “Then, you just gotta GO!”

Every year, the DARE2act graduates travel from their own neighbourhoods to meet up, support each other, stay in contact with DAREarts and plan their futures. These kids four or five years ago, were just finding their legs. They were with us then because they were struggling. Distracted. Failing. Socially insecure. Bullied. Now, looking at them, one can see how mature they’ve become. They are our mentors now. One of them, Shamin Mohamid Jr., is on our board of Directors.

As we careen around the rink, feeling more sure, remembering how to skate, one can’t help but think: This is what it feels like. To be scared, to try, to risk and succeed.  Our kids teach us every day.

You put one foot in front of the other. Then, you just gotta go!

Remember your first time on skates? Drop us a line with your story.

If you’d like to donate to DAREarts, just hit the button on the sidebar. Any little bit helps. Because no child should ever feel hopeless.

DAREarts acknowledges the support of: our lead sponsor, Northbridge Insurance, BMO Financial Group, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, CIBC Children’s Foundation, HUB International, Noront Resources, Telus Toronto Community Board, TDSB, TD, Ontario Arts Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Government of Ontario.

Visit for information on how you can get involved.

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