CALGARY -- For a third year, WinSport and the Centre for Newcomers teamed up Friday to introduce new immigrants to snow and ice sports.

One hundred participants will take part in the five-week WinSport Newcomers program this year, kicking off February 21. On Friday, they were sized up for rental equipment and given winter gear, through donations, to help keep them warm.

“It’s really important for newcomers to be involved in winter sports because it’s a part of what we do here in Calgary,” said Anila Lee Yuen, president and CEO of the Centre for Newcomers, “It’s a part of what we do in many parts of Canada, and it really quickens the integration process.”

The program is supported through donations and government funding to provide participants with rental equipment, lift tickets, and lessons for skiing, snowboarding, and skating.

Judy Black, fund development manager at WinSport, said traversing ice and snow is a challenge to many newcomers so they’re wary of having fun with it, “We’ve had some newcomers in the first two years of our program come and say, ‘Why would I want to skate on something that nearly killed me this morning when I tried to walk on it?’”

Black added that it’s also a great way for young newcomers to feel included at school during conversations around winter sports.

“There are so many issues that many newcomers coming to Canada will face, “said Yuen, “So when there’s an opportunity for joy and happiness, it’s just so exciting to see.”