The concept was simple: introduce kids to curling, rather than waiting for the kids to find it themselves. Ten years ago Rocks & Rings was introduced as a non-traditional curling setting that aimed to diversify the sport, making it reflective of Canada’s actual makeup.
Now they’re on the cusp of signing up their two millionth student.
“That was the key to Rocks & Rings from the start, was that we were bringing curling to them. We can reach 150 to 200 students in one day and provide them with fun games and activities around the sport,” program director Abbie Darnley told Sport for Life.
Rocks & Rings is an excellent example of Quality Sport innovation, taking a familiar game and introducing a new twist. Sport for Life especially applauds its dedication to inclusion, how it reaches across age demographics to find new ways to keep kids active. Now that it’s reached its 10 year anniversary, we believe other sports could use it as an example when undertaking similar overhauls of their programs. One initiative they undertook was called Curling 101.
“This program takes kids and their parents from the school to the ice rink. This gives students the opportunity to try it on ice with their families after they’ve had a fun experience in the school gym. It’s been extremely popular and over 2500 youth have tried curling on the ice after their gym experience,” she said.
Support from a number of partners has been crucial to Rocks & Rings' success. Curling Canada helped launch the program in 2009 along with provincial curling organizations, and provincial egg farmer associations have also played a big role.
Next up is their plan to launch tournament programs in regions across Canada, as well as launching new initiatives aimed at increasing participation. With a healthy online presence, they’re constantly promoting their latest work to their growing online fanbase. And one of their fans is Sport for Life director Carolyn Trono, who has been watching Rocks & Rings closely over the years.
“Honestly, I find it so inspiring what Rocks & Rings has accomplished in the last ten years. To think that millions of children will experience a sport they might never have been exposed to otherwise, that’s precisely why we do the work we do. I applaud them for everything they’ve accomplished, and can’t wait to see what they do next,” she said.
One of the most impressive outcomes of the Rocks & Rings program is that it inspires students to take action and extend their learning beyond the school gym. If you follow them on social media you will see some of the stories that students, teachers, and families share about how their kids want to share curling with their friends. Rocks & Rings positively impacts students across Canada, building important life skills and introducing them to a lifelong sport.
“It’s about more than just curling. It’s about the kids.”