Program teaches East Tennessee foster children how to ice skate, life lessons

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Challenge, goals and success all go with being an athlete no matter their age or background. For three months now, a group of ice skating coaches have been teaching those same principles to a group of deserving East Tennessee children.

The program is called Skate for Our Future and it was started by parents, along with Ice Chalet owner Larry LaBorde, to help children who are currently part of the foster care system.

“Some of us are lucky. We have our moms. We have our dads and some of us never met our mom or dad for whatever reasons. These kids are athletes just like any other kid, but they just don’t have the means,” said LaBorde.

Lessons don’t cost anything and so far there are roughly 60 children who are part of the Skate for Our Future program. The approach boils down to life on and off the ice.

“Teaching them discipline and hard work and learning how to win, learning how to lose,” said coach Jennifer Bradley.

Tammy Reynolds has custody of her 3-year-old granddaughter, Ryleigh, and says it gives her a sense of stability.

“It’s nice to know that she’s going to be at the same place all the time, instead of being moved around like an ordinary foster child. And the same people are going to be a part of her life,” she added.

Everyone who is a part of the program feels like they’re the lucky ones.

“That’s our hope, that this would be a program that we could start here in Knoxville and it would continue every year. But then I think, also, if it flies then take it nationally and let other ice rinks get involved,” said LaBorde.

It’s an opportunity many foster families, including the Reynolds, say they’re grateful to have.

“It’s really cute to watch her from the very first time she stepped on the ice.”

In June, the Skate for Our Future program is holding a fundraising event called Skating with the Stars. WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Laura Halm is participating. Each dollar donated to her and her partner counts as a vote. If you’d like to help the program and donate, click here.

For more information about the Skate for Our Future program, you can visit their website here.

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