Figure Skating in Harlem (FSH)

18 Mar 2016


The aim of the programme is to transform young lives and help girls from Harlem grow in confidence, leadership, and academic achievement through figure skating.

New York City (USA)
Organisation Figure Skating in Harlem
Start-end date
1997 – ongoing
Target group age
6-18 year old girls
Hundreds of girls each year
Partners and NGOs
Private foundations, several American Olympic figure skaters
Key facts
Each year, students sign a contract pledging to maintain at least a B average in school. Over 84% of the students met this requirement. 97% of students reported an increased sense of accomplishment and self-discipline. 100% of parents stated that the programme had an overall positive impact on their daughters.
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Figure Skating in Harem (FSH) provides girls with innovative year-round health, education and fitness programmes that promote academic success, physical health, and emotional well-being. Participating students, girls aged between 6 and 18, spend up to 480 hours annually engaged in comprehensive figure skating and academic programmes, which include ICE: I Can Excel and Summer Dreams. The programme takes place throughout the duration of the school year and includes two to three afternoons per week of ice skating instruction, life skills classes, homework assistance and academic enrichment classes. Each student is provided with ice time, quality skating instruction, and proper equipment (skates, blade covers and bags) and attire (warm-up suits, sweatshirts, and show costumes). The programme addresses issues of safety, social support, classroom engagement, and time management. It actively educates underprivileged girls about their full range of educational and career opportunities by giving them information about non-traditional jobs, financial aid, and scholarship programmes and provides them with mentorship opportunities with successful female professionals.


An extensive curriculum

The FSH’s comprehensive Leading Edge Academic and Character Education Curriculum is focused on helping girls acquire foundational academic skills to prepare them for their future. Delivered by certified teachers and social workers, the programme is continually evolving to meet the students’ needs. Subjects range from nutrition, financial literacy, communications and public speaking, to study skills, and skating history as well as social and emotional skills development. FSH also offers career workshops, leadership and mentoring opportunities, and cultural field trips designed to provide meaningful experiences and to deepen commitment to education and success.

A three-pillar programme

The programme is comprised of three pillars: skating skills, academic achievement and social and emotional well-being. All activities are designed to help participants improve in each of the areas and each student’s progress is monitored on a continuous basis.

Figure Skating in Harlem


Promote sport and physical activity

The programme uses figure skating as a catalyst for transforming lives and providing participants with a sense of purpose and belonging. Promotion of the practice sport is one of the key pillars of the project, where participating students are provided with training two to three times a week during the school year.

Improve public health and well-being

At FSH, students are engaged in structured physical activities and wellness classes to improve their fitness and instil healthy habits they will take with them throughout their lives, therefore increasing the knowledge and awareness of health and wellbeing among girls and their families who participate in the programme.

Provide equal access to sport

The main reason behind the creation of FSH is to open up the sport of skating to young women in urban areas, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn the discipline and life skills gained from participation.


The programme is promoted on a dedicated website, which receives an average 4,500 views/month. Additionally, regular electronic flyers and newsletters are sent to the organisation’s database of 3,500 members. The two premier community events, the Soul on Ice Winter Skating Party and Annual Student Ice Show are publicised through press releases one month before the event and through the website, e-communications and social media channels. The Skating with the Stars benefit gala, which attracts a wide variety of corporate sponsors and major individual donors, is promoted through press releases and formal invitations. A marketing campaign leading up to the gala includes social media postings (Facebook and Twitter), phone calls, emails and letters to the network of current and potential supporters.


Each student’s progress is evaluated in each of the key areas (skating skills, academic achievement, social and emotional well-being) individually through pre- and post-season assessments, which include interviews, observation, and questionnaires. These tools enable an understanding of how each girl is progressing annually, as well as longitudinally from the time of their initial enrollment.

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