Editorial | Ice skating for all New Yorkers

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For the past four decades, figure skating in Harlem and ice hockey in Harlem have worked to bring students from under-served New York City communities onto the ice while supporting them in the classroom. As the only organizations in the five boroughs to leverage ice sports to promote academic success, we support thousands of children as they grow into confident young adults, on and off the ice.

At the heart of our belief, all children should have access to youth sports and ice programs. However, for both economic and social reasons, this is not the case. Not only has it become more and more difficult for all children to participate due to growing inequalities, but it is also even more difficult to find access to the rinks. As our two programs have expanded and the number of students we serve increases, it has become difficult to find state-of-the-art rinks and ice time to meet our needs. The coveted hours of weekend mornings, when students are not in school or have no other responsibilities at night, are those when we desperately need to skate.

In a city like New York where there is no shortage of basketball courts or open fields for baseball, athletics and everything in between, there is a clear lack of accessible rinks for our communities.

That’s why we’re incredibly excited about the new plans for the famous Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park.

The city’s parks department selected Wollman Park Partners as the recommended new operator for Wollman Rink, which has already created a large inclusive tent of community partnerships with local organizations to make the rink as inclusive and accessible as possible.

As two community partners of Wollman Park Partners, we will be expanding our youth program to reach more children and provide additional employment opportunities for our older participants and alumni. It also offers an opportunity for our students – who come from communities that repeatedly face social and economic obstacles to the richness of the city’s cultural and sporting institutions – to finally enjoy all the benefits that more privileged communities easily reach.

As we emerge from a global pandemic, which has had a profound impact on our students and their academic and professional growth, prioritizing inclusion and accessibility has never been more important. We must ensure that all New Yorkers are aided in the city’s takeover so that no one is left behind and we are preparing the next generation to succeed.

As a potential new rink operator, Wollman Park Partners is committed to promoting diversity rather than profit, which allows us to help even more students due to their generosity and belief in New York City. .

We hope New Yorkers are excited about the upcoming winter skating season, where we look forward to getting back on the ice and creating lasting memories for youth and adults.

Sharon Cohen is the Founder and CEO of Figure Skating in Harlem. Todd Levy is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ice Hockey in Harlem.


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