Importance of Working with the Community

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One of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of ‘community’ is “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”. In the early weeks of History Beyond the Classroom, we had a discussion about communities. Which communities we thought we were apart of, and what communities we would like to work with for our major project. When I heard the word ‘community’ I immediately thought of the ice rink. I’ve chosen Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink as the community group I’ll be working with over the semester.
Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink has been the home to and fostered a community for 45 years. I’ve been a part of this community of six years now. Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink is the home to many sporting clubs from figure, syncro, hockey and speed. In my community work with the ice rink, I will be assisting in archiving the history of the creation of the ice rink and the co-op. The rink has had a dynamic history over the past 45 years, and has only been able to survive due to the community supporting it, and donating their time and efforts to ensuring the rink lives on for the next generation of skaters.
Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink is a not-for-profit organisation that offers a space for training and recreational skating. The idea for the ice rink in Canterbury began at the Malvern Hall Methodist Church Hall in Croydon. John R.E. Brown, who became the first chairman and was one of the three founding members of the co-op, spoke to the ice skating community and proposed a new rink in Canterbury. The Burwood Glaciarium Rink had just closed down, and this was why a co-op had to be formed to ensure the new rink wouldn’t close down privately. Fifty people agreed to join to co-op at $20 per person for the first year.
The challenge then began to find $73,000 to ensure a continued training place for the western Sydney ice skating community. A year later, after many struggles with councils, and funds, the ice rink opened its doors on Friday March 5, 1971. This wouldn’t have been able to happen without the help of countless volunteers who spent so much of their time and energy into building a rink that would serve the community, and be a community for many years to come.
The rink has grown and changed so much over the past 45 years. The original entry price for a public skating session was 80 cents for children and $1.20 for adults. The image shown is an article from the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1971, which documents the opening of the ice rink and the impact volunteers and community members had.
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