A family, a skating rink, and creating community connections

Submitted by khofer on March 1, 2013 - 2:55pm

With a family that includes a 9 year old, 6 year old, and 3 year old, our centre for community generally stems from the activities and interests of our children.   We’ve developed a lot of swimming connections through the local swim club, friendships and cultural connections through our French Public School, and we've strengthened our neighbourhood connections with our skating rink.  These activities are at the core of our family's connections, themes, feelings, and spaces when it comes to community (see Seeking Community a Thousand Conversations to Shape our Future by Derek Alton).

A little more about the skating rink … we are in our fourth winter season with an outdoor skating rink.  During the first two winters, we had a small skating rink in our backyard, but two winters ago we decided to ‘go big or go home’ and move the skating rink to our front lawn.   Why?  The rink can be so much bigger in this spot.  It’s a great way to keep three kids active.  And, at the core, we made a conscious decision to make the rink an intentional conversation piece that is more accessible to the kids who live on our street.

Now our rink doesn’t get used every day, and some days it’s just a reason to knock on a neighbourhood friend’s door to see what they are doing.  That knock might end up leading to a different activity altogether.  But, in the winter time, when it can be so easy to hibernate, sometimes it takes some intentionality to get the kids outside, and to get them participating in and growing their community.   Our rink is a way to act on our value of developing our street friendships -- some close community connections that our kids, and me as their parent, could have for many years to come.

I care a lot about our street friendships because I cherish mine from my childhood.  Sure some neighbourhood kids came and went, and most of the kids were older and friends with my siblings (I’m the youngest of 4 kids), but I tagged along and can remember a lot of days spent exploring with the kids on our street.  We played mass games of hide-and-seek, biked up and down the street all day, had snow ball fights, and just hung out together.  There was a sense of belonging on our street.  And, that‘s what I would like to be a part of growing within our neighbourhood.