By David Kavanagh | posted on June 15, 2019
A FREE roller-skating and mental wellbeing program for teenage girls will likely continue into next year after the Albany group behind it became one of only two around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.
Funding for the Albany Roller Derby League’s (ARDL) Skate like a Girl program, which combines weekly skating sessions with mental health literacy lessons coordinated by headspace, was set to run out at the end of 2019.
ARDL President Natalie Jarvis said United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) selected the group to receive the grant because of the work it had already been doing.
“Last year, we saw over 80 girls participate in Skate like a Girl and this year our first two terms have been more than full,” she said.
“We do roller skating and roller hockey and we provide an overall safe space where the girls can fail and fall and learn that mental resilience that comes through a physical sport like roller derby.
“The girls generally come for one term or more and in a few weeks they’re jumping things, skating backwards, learning how to skate fast.
“The Girls on Track Foundation is hopefully going to keep that alive.”
A $13,000 grant provided by Healthway has allowed Skate like a Girl to operate at no cost for participants for the past two years.
According to Ms Jarvis, this meant the program brought together girls from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
“We’ve had young people from all different walks of life, all different schools, all different experiences … that’s a real testament to the space being inclusive and diverse and welcoming for all,” she said.
GOTF President Carla Smith said many families could not afford the $200 or more it cost to buy the skates, pads and helmets necessary to participate in roller-skating safely.
She said of the more than 40 applications for funding the organisation received, ARDL was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.
“Their successful Skate like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.
“Participation in roller derby helps girls develop confidence, leadership and organisational skills with lifelong benefits for skaters and their communities.”
Ms Jarvis said she hoped the League would receive around $15,000 to cover operational costs in 2020.
The GOTF grant will be raised through a crowd- funding campaign and anyone interested in donating can visit www.girlsontrackfoundation.org.