The Back2Basics program is recruiting people who are versed in the art of skating, in the interest of sharing that knowledge with the next generation of skaters in Cape Breton.
Marylynn Hurley, founder and head coach of Back2Basics, said the program began in Sydney Mines four years ago.
“After our first year running, we partnered with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Now it looks like we’re going to be partners with other municipalities as we expand across Cape Breton,” Hurley said.
As the initiative grew from community and business donations, it eventually spread to the other parts of the island – including Inverness and Richmond counties.
Recruitment is going along at a good pace, Hurley noted, alluding to the fact that despite the ugly weather, Back2Basics recruited six new volunteer coaches trained to run the program in Port Hawkesbury, Louisdale and Whycocomagh.
Back2Bascis is filling a need Hurley saw, with other early skating programs.
“It’s from the ground up. We’re different from some of the other programs that currently exist,” Hurley said. “We have a program called Learn With Me, and that allows parents to go on the ice, and we teach the parent how to teach the child how to skate.”
Bringing parents on the ice allows for the program to teach children how to skate at an even earlier age, Hurley noted.
“We take kids as young as two years old, and a few younger than two, based on what the family’s participation has been,” she said. “We have some of the activities that take place with some of the youngest participants.”
The next step up that Back2Basics offers is Little Movers.
“Little Movers is for kids that are just learning to move around on the ice, hone them and improve them,” she noted.
The highest level offered is the Skate4Life program, one of the only adult-oriented learn-to-skate programs in the region.
Across Cape Breton, Back2Baics has a team of 15 volunteers.
“We are looking for more. We need more volunteers in all areas of Cape Breton,” Hurley said.
“What I tell people is if you love to skate, why not take that gift and give it to someone else?” Hurley said. “In one hour, you’d be surprised what a difference you could make.”
The commitment expected from coaches or volunteers is an hour a week.
“The only thing they need is a love of skating, a hockey helmet and a pair of skates,” Hurley added.
According to Hurley, Back2Basics has received a litany of testimonies from people who have learned to skate, or whose family members have learned to skate, through the program.
“People are saying they can learn a lot in four sessions.”
Hurley added the service Back2Basics provides is a necessary one, alluding to the decline in skaters.
“There is a significant gap in people who are aged 20 to 35, who haven’t learned to skate,” Hurley said. “And that is the generation that is now having kids of their own. If they haven’t learned, themselves, they won’t be able to teach their children.”
Hurley emphasized that Back2Basics is not looking to compete with other skating programs. On the contrary, the program is intended to complement others by filling in the gaps.
“Nobody really deals with the kids who can’t stand up yet,” Hurley said, noting she and her coaches work to make sure parents and kids are aware of what other opportunities there are beyond what Back2Basics offers.
“An example of that would be the speed skating club in Sydney Mines,” Hurley said. “When people finish our programs, we make sure they know about that. We feed programs like CanSkate and hockey.”
For more information
Check out the Back2Basics Facebook page, call (902) 787-3508 or email Marylynn.Hurley@nshealth.ca.