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Figure skating is the oldest Winter Olympic sport and one of the most-watched competitions during the global quadrennial event, however, despite its popularity representation has historically been missing on the ice. Two Detroit entrepreneurs are on a mission to change the narrative surrounding diversity within the sport through the creation of a new skating club, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Dubbed the Dream Detroit Skating Academy, the program—which launched in January—is Detroit’s first Black women-owned skating club. Founded by Candice Tamakloe and Angela Blocker-Loyd with the support of coach Crystal Stewart, the academy was cultivated to eradicate barriers that deter youth from participating in the sport by offering affordable figure skating lessons for children who live in low-income households. The Dream Detroit Skating Academy provides programs and training for skaters at all levels and uses skating as an avenue to help youth build life skills that can be applied off of the ice.

DDSA’s founders say their own experiences as figure skaters inspired them to create the academy. The lack of representation they’ve witnessed throughout their journeys illustrated the need for a space where underrepresented youth can learn about pathways within ice skating.

“Growing up, DDSA skating directors Angela Blocker-Loyd and Candice Tamakloe were two of only a few competitive African American skaters in the metropolitan Detroit area,” read a statement on the academy’s website. “As they continued refining their craft through the years, they noticed that there was a lack of representation and opportunity for Detroit youth in the figure skating world. With hopes of being the change they wanted to see, Candice and Angela launched Dream Detroit Skating Academy. Candice and Angela firmly believe that figure skating is not readily available to Detroit’s youth, but there is no reason that the community should not have access to the same opportunities afforded to suburban communities across the globe. By introducing this non-traditional sport, Dream Detroit hopes to instill, in its students, a sense of self-worth, community, curiosity, and most importantly, the confidence to explore opportunities beyond the scope of their familiar environment.”

Tamakloe says she hopes DDSA will nurture skaters who will go on to compete at the national and international levels. The program operates at the Jack Adams Memorial Ice Arena nestled in the heart of Detroit.

Initiatives like the Dream Detroit Skating Academy are crucial components in advancing diversity which is a pressing issue within the sport. There were no Black skaters on this year’s U.S. Olympic team.

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