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Community Spotlight: Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena

Community Spotlight: Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena

This month’s spotlight features the Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena (FFDIA), a nonprofit formed by DC residents in 1996 to prevent the arena’s closure. Parents and friends took over and revitalized the Ward 7 facility, building offices, adding a meeting room, and refurbishing the lobby and concession area. The FFDIA also formed Kids On Ice®, a program providing free ice skating lessons and equipment to kids from 5 to 18.

We are excited to have Ty Newberry, Executive Director, join us this month to tell us more about FFDIA and their work within the DC area.  

Tell us about the FDIA’s work with the Fort Dupont Ice Arena.

FFDIA is located in the heart of Ward 7 and impacts 2,500 children annually, introducing them to ice skating and providing advanced instruction in ice hockey, synchronized skating, figure skating, and speed skating. Approximately 60% of these children and teens live in or attend schools in underserved neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.  Kids On Ice® (KOI) is a youth development program using sports to instill a positive self-image and the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle in youth ages 5-18. Skating provides multiple character-building opportunities and participants in KOI® programs gain self-esteem while learning respect, fairness, reliability, courtesy, responsibility, sportsmanship, and the value of practice, and perseverance. KOI® teaches valuable life lessons beginning with a participant’s first steps on the ice. Classes are taught in a group setting to develop respect, commitment, sportsmanship, and the value of practice, all while improving physical fitness. KOI® instruction includes the basic skills of skating to advanced instruction in ice hockey, synchronized skating, figure skating, and speed skating. Children and youth participating in KOI® programs range in age from 5 – 18 years, with an average age of 7 ½. Skaters are comprised of 57% girls and 43% boys and represent diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

What is the best part of working with the FDIA?

The best part of working at FFDIA is watching kids progress in skill level both on and off the ice while developing new friendships and learning life lessons in the process.  Our warm, welcoming, supportive, diverse environment is embraced by staff, volunteers, program participants, instructors, and parents. It is the essence of FFDIA and most appreciated by all.

How does the Kids on Ice program work?

Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena (FFDIA) is a nonprofit organization established in 1996 to rescue the Fort Dupont Ice Rink in Southeast Washington, DC from closure. FFDIA revitalized the arena and now operates the facility, providing a traditionally underserved neighborhood with an NHL-size ice rink, recreational and cultural activities, skating instruction and regular physical education programming for District schools. The Fort Dupont Ice Arena is the only public indoor ice arena located in Washington, DC and the only skating facility in the region that provides free skating programs to disadvantaged children. Our mission is to provide increased opportunity, education and inspiration to young people in Washington, DC and the surrounding area through ice skating and educational activities. The majority of these children are considered disadvantaged, residing in or attending schools in Wards 7 and 8.

Kids On Ice® consists of Learn To Skate or basic ice skating instruction, P.L.U.S. or advanced ice skating instruction, and Schools Skate For Fitness in which approximately 30 schools participate in physical education classes during the week.  The School Skate For Fitness program allows for DCPS and Public Charter Schools to alternate typical gym time with an ice skating lesson.  Camps are also available throughout the summer months.

What is Kids on Ice® PLUS?

KOI® P.L.U.S. (Positive Living Using Skating) is more intensive, advanced skating instruction in figure skating, hockey, speedskating, and synchronized skating for children ages 5 – 18.  Program participants begin in Kids On Ice® Learn To Skate and once they achieve a certain level of competence graduate on to the P.L.U.S. program.  These programs meet weekly from September – March and involve participants in public performances, competitions, and tournaments. Skaters meet for approximately one hour of intensive skating instruction, followed by off-ice conditioning and training.

How can my child join Kids on Ice?

Visit our website at fdia.org and call the rink at (202) 584-5007 to sign up.  Registration forms and complete information is readily available and accessible.

Can I volunteer with Kids on Ice?

We truly value all of our volunteers because we know we could not do it alone. Our volunteer opportunities vary upon request. Helping out our basic skills program or hosting a community service day with your company are just two of the various options.

What are some other ways to support FDIA?

You may support FFDIA by making a donation via mail, in person, or online at fdia.org.  In-kind donations of skating equipment including skates, hockey sticks, pads, skating dresses and much more may be dropped off at the rink during open hours.