A program in Detroit is looking to increase the representation of Black figure skaters in the city, The Undefeated reported.
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Figure Skating in Detroit—which is a Midwest extension of the two-decade-old Figure Skating in Harlem initiative—was designed as an avenue to introduce youth from communities of color in the Motor City to the sport, the news outlet writes.
For decades, youngsters from disenfranchised groups have been ostracized from the competitive sport and the program is looking to break the barriers to access and change that narrative. The program uses figure skating as a lens to learn about larger life lessons surrounding self-confidence, leadership, and the importance of education. Figure Skating in Detroit accepts girls between the ages of 6 through 15. After being interviewed to be a part of the program, the girls participate in 2-hour courses that are held four days a week and have the opportunity to interact with dedicated mentors and take on-ice classes as well as dance classes. The girls are allowed to stay in the program as long as they uphold a B average. They also receive ice skating gear.
The initiative identified a stark disparity between the $26,000 median income in Detroit and the high costs of figure skating and offers the program for $250. Figure Skating in Detroit also promotes parental involvement by encouraging them to go to the workshops. “Figure Skating in Detroit is designed to help young girls build a foundation on ice…a place and a program where young women can realize their full potential through access to information, resources and experiences that may otherwise be out of reach,” said Geneva Williams, who leads the site in Detroit, according to the program’s website.
According to the news outlet, the program has 52 participants but is looking to quadruple that number by the end of next year.
The program has received recognition from notable people in the realm of figure skating. It has been supported by Olympic Gold Medalist Meryl Davis. “I admire how Figure Skating in Detroit puts a laser focus on education and then provides the support to be successful in the classroom and beyond,” U.S. Figure Skating Association spokeswoman Barb Reichert told the Undefeated.
Figure skating in Detroit has grown in popularity over the past few years. The city is slated to host the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in 2019. Futures in Winter sports seem promising for Black girls. Maame Biney, 17, recently made history as the first Black woman to make the U.S. Olympic speedskating team.
SOURCE: The Undefeated