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IN THE NEWS - Pass Powderkeg program introducing immigrant families to skiing

December 15, 2018

Pass Powderkeg program introducing immigrant families to skiing

READ FULL STORY ON Lethbridge Herald Here

For some newcomers, even a mild winter can be shocking during their first year in southern Alberta.
 
For others – it’s time to learn how to ski!
 
That’s the plan at the Pass Powderkeg Ski Area this winter, in collaboration with Lethbridge Family Services.
 
Children and parents are strapping on skis and learning new skills on Powderkeg’s beginner runs. And they’re clearly enjoying it, says Katherine Seleski, the facility’s operations manager.
 
“It’s great to see the lodge filled with so many smiling faces,” she observes.
 
The no-charge program started earlier this month and Seleski says it will resume after the Christmas break.
 
A grant from the Make a Wish Foundation was instrumental in getting the program going, but she says Lethbridge businesses and individuals have been very supportive as well.
 
“It allows our new Canadians to get involved and learn something new.”
 
While some refugees come from places with winters like ours – including the Bhutanese – the ice and snow may present a real learning curve for people who’ve arrived from Eritrea, Congo or refugee camps near Syria.
 
But now, says Seleski, they’re excited to learn these winter elements can be enjoyable.
 
And it’s not just the youngsters who are skiing, with parents looking on. The goal is to introduce newcomers to an activity for the whole family, she says.
 
“A family gets lessons all at once.”
 
And the gentle slopes at Powderkeg are proving an appropriate place to do that, she says. Beginners feel far less stress than if they were part of the crowd at one of the region’s major ski resorts, she points out.
 
And they’re getting lots of runs.
 
“They’re usually here from 10:30 to about 3:30,” she says.
 
“There’s a quick learning curve.”
 
Transportation is arranged for those without cars. And Seleski says goggles, gloves and other winter clothing are also being provided to learners who need them.
 
A similar program began recently in Calgary and became a quick success. So officials at Powderkeg and the immigrant services arm of Lethbridge Family Services went about finding support for a program here.
 
Conditions at Powderkeg have remained suitable, she says, with sunny skies and light winds most days.
 
And Seleski is looking forward to meeting more families in January.
 
“It’s very cool.”
 
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