Building an Ice Skating Rink for Girls in Afghanistan

Posted by martin.parnell |
Building an Ice Skating Rink for Girls in Afghanistan

On December 31st 2017 I will be holding my 8th Annual Run / Walk at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. It all started in 2010 when, on December 31st, I ran my final marathon of Marathon Quest 250, completing 250 marathons in one year. It’s hard to believe that every year since then the community of Cochrane and beyond has come out, often in temperatures of -20C and lower, to help others. The first five years it was to support Right To Play and their play based educational programs in Benin, West Africa. 

In 2015 the funds went to Boma La Mama to build a playground for a Kindergarten class in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania. That year we raised $12,000 and these funds provided a swing set, a round-a-bout, teeter totters, a see-saw and a bouncy castle.

Last year we raised $7,000 for Free to Run, an organisation that uses sports to empower and educate women and girls from conflict affected communities. The funds were used for an unprecedented camping and kayaking expedition in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan. A group of eleven female participants from multiple provinces in Afghanistan participated. Not only was it their first experience in the Panjshir Valley, but it was the first time they had ever camped outdoors or kayaked. It was also the first time an Afghan female had ever kayaked in the country. 

This year we are again supporting Free to Run. This time we want to raise $10,000 to build an ice skating rink for Afghan females in the town of Bamyan, in the foot hills of the Hindu Kush Mountains. A small rink was built this January for the girls and young women and for the first time ever they got a taste of gliding on ice. Said one young lady from the program, “for me, ice skating was amazing because when I started skating, I was wondering, 'How is it possible to stand on a small blade and keep our balance?' It's another reason we can have confidence; if I can stand on ice with a blade, then anything is possible.” Last year, funding was provided by the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan however this is not available this year.

On Sunday, December 31st registration is by donation and goes from 8.00am to 2.30pm. You pick the distance: Marathon, Half marathon, 10 km, 5 km or 2 km “Cookie Loop”. Volunteers from the Calgary branch of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan will be on the sign in desk and will be providing Afghan music, dance and tea. They will also be selling goods made by women in Afghanistan. 

This is a family friendly event so why not combine it with a swim or session on the bouncy castles. 

So Cochrane, let’s keep these Afghan girls and young women on skates. 

If you can’t make it then please consider making a donation at www.martinparnell.com. Just scroll down and hit the big red “DONATE” button on the left hand side. Thank you.

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