SEVERN, Ont. — Not only is cottage country getting a year-round jolt of its children are getting some good sill in time for the holidays, too.
On hand at West Shore Beach Club, a gated community being built by Summerhill Homes, were Skate to Great representatives, including Canadian figure skaters Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, fresh off two silver medal-winning performances in Kelowna in October and Bordeaux, France a few weeks ago.
Skate to Great collects used skates, hockey helmets and sticks to distribute to children in need, regardless of economic or physical circumstance, and will be partnering with West Shore Beach Club to donate skates to children in the Barrie and Orillia regions.
“It’s a great thing to be able to give kids the chance to try skating if they can’t afford it,” said Gilles. “We’ve been fortunate to have parents who support us and pay for our equipment, although my first pair of skates were hand-me-downs, so it’s nice to be able to give other people a chance to enjoy a sport that we love.
“To see kids smile and feel the wind in their hair when they’re skating on the ice is wonderful. Canada is skating, and to be able to bring that to small or big communities is important.”
The skating duo have been aligned with Skate to Great since its 2011 inception because, not only is there potential to grow the sport they love in a country wherein skates are intrinsic totems, but it will help overcome financial barriers that impede youth participation in recreational sport.
“This gives an opportunity to as many people as possible to learn how to skate, to enjoy skating and to grow with it,” said Poirier. “It’s important for us to help the community grow and help everyone around have an
West Shore Beach Club is comprised of 76 Muskoka boathouse-style bungalows, some with lofts, that are fully detached and range between 1,001 and 2,500 sq-ft. Each house overlooks Lake Couchiching and is maintenance-free (including grass cutting and snow removal).
In addition to nearby cycling trails, golf courses, ski resorts and, of course, ponds, West Shore Beach Club is ideal for summer activities like swimming in the shallow, sandy bottom lake, canoeing, windsurfing and fishing.
Summerhill Homes’ partner Brian Ellis said the Skate to Great initiative is in the spirit of more than just the Christmas season. West Shore Beach Club buyers are active people and this community is predicated
on immersing oneself in natural surroundings.
“We’re building a community here and we’re really focusing on nature and the outdoors,” said Ellis. “During the summertime it’s all about the beaches and the water; in the winter it’s all about the skating and crosscountry skiing, and we really want to encourage kids to stay active. Get them out of their homes during the winter time and get them out on the ice.”
Skate to Great relies entirely on volunteers and has, to date, collected and distributed around 6,000 skates. It has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, among other organizations, and seeks to support
schools, programs and other charities in Canada that give children the opportunity to skate.
“ The Barrie and Orillia areas in particular are major spots for hockey,” said Evan Kosiner, Chairman & Cofounder of Skate To Great. “There are a lot of kids that want to play and we want to make sure that any kid who wants that opportunity receives that opportunity. There are tons of existing organizations and we just want to support them.”
Added Poirier, “Just looking around here, how many lakes and ponds there are, there are so many opportunities for children here in the winter to get back to our Canadian roots.”
Ice skates, hockey helmets and sticks can be dropped off at West Shore Beach Club’s sales office (9361 Hwy 11 N. at Greyshott Dr.) or at Summerhill Homes’ head office in Richmond Hill (20 Wertheim Court, Suite 17) until Feb. 28.