PartyBus560Children from G.C. Huston Public School were greeted by Boston Pizza’s Lionel (back, centre) as they arrived at the Plex from Southampton full of smiles on their Party Bus with Principal Dan Russell (back, left) and teacher Enid Johnson (back, right).

Hub Staff

It certainly was “For the Kids!” on Saturday, February 25 as the Rotary Clubs of Port Elgin, Southampton, Tara and Hepworth-Shallow Lake held their 15th annual Rotary Winterama, with events taking place in Port Elgin, Shallow Lake and Hepworth.

Although the recent unseasonably warm and wet weather effected snowshoeing and skiing events, in Saugeen Shores skating at the Plex was a big hit, with several members of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks - including Greg Thede, Curtis Johnston, Trent Hawke, Andy Mitchell and James McHaigh - spending time in between their semi-final playoff games against the Clinton Radars to come and skate with their young fans.

Port Elgin Rotarian and Winterama organizer Doug Fryday said that Winterama is aimed at getting children in the area more active while raising for child-focussed initiatives. “As we all know, kids should be more active these days so that's one of our goals. Another of our goals is to raise funds for the breakfast clubs at the schools and any other educational needs.”

Fellow Rotarian and organizer Ron Moss said that children in the local schools are given pledge sheets and the money raised is then sorted by a share back program. “The share back works that 30 percent of the pledges that comes from the kids and their schools goes back to their breakfast program and then 40 percent goes to the same school for programs within the school.”

Moss said that the remaining 30 percent goes to the local Rotary clubs. “We tend to earmark that for projects for children, for instance the skate park or the playground or what’s coming up, the splash pads.”

Dozens of children from G.C. Huston Public School in Southampton arrived at the Plex in their 'Party Bus', which Principal Dan Russell said was the brainchild of G.C. Huston teacher Enid Johnson. “We always say what happens on the party bus, stays on the party bus,” joked Russell. “We take the Shore Road to get here so we have lots of time on the party bus and we rock it out with music. We have balloons, we have snacks, we dance all the way from G.C. Huston to the Plex and all the way from the Plex back. We celebrate being a school family and celebrate Winterama together.”

Russell said that the school had been doing Winterama activities at recess all week. “It's all become part of our school culture,” he said, adding that it was important to be involved in the Rotary event. “It strengthens our partnership with the Southampton Rotary Club but also it teaches our children the importance of community service. One of the concerns that we have as a staff is that there's not that same culture of serving the community within the community among our youth and so we believe one of our jobs is to teach our children the importance of giving back.”

As of Friday, Russell believed the school had raised $4,000 for Winterama but hoped to get the total to $5,000. “We’ll have more pledges come in even next week,” he said.

For 16-year old Rotary Youth Exchange student Natan Reinchow, it was the first time on ice skates. Reinchow arrived last August from Brazil, is spending a year in Saugeen Shores and is taking advantage of the opportunity to try out different winter sports. “A couple of weeks ago I did downhill skiing, it was really good and now it's my first time skating.”

Reinchow will be heading back to Brazil in July and said he was having a great time in Canada, with the biggest difference being the cold. “Now it's summer in Brazil so now it's about 35 or 40 degrees so it’s pretty warm. It's a big difference.”

The Rotary Youth Exchange is offered through Rotary International and Reinchow said he would recommend it to anyone. “I think it's a great opportunity. You live away from your parents, away from your country, from your official language, so it’s like a challenge, it’s really good,” said Reinchow.

Following skating at the Plex, children headed upstairs to be served a pizza lunch, courstesy of Boston Pizza in Port Elgin and prizes were handed out to the children who has raised the most in pledges with the top three winning an award plaque. Eight-year old Alexis Rennick from G.C Huston won the top prize of a drone, donated by Bruce County Phsyiotherapy, with a total raised of $514.

Activities continued after lunch with free swimming on offer at the Centennial Pool and, new this year, bowling at Sunset Family Fun Centre, both in Port Elgin.

“From our community here in Saugeen Shores we've brought in around $8,000 in cash donations from individuals and businesses and right now from the schools, $5,200,” said Moss. “Hepworth-Shallow Lake has around $4,900.”

Moss expected that all told, the figure raised would be around $20,000.

Awards560Eight-year old Alexis Rennick, right, of G.C. Huston received an award plaque and a prize of a drone from Port Elgin Rotarian Ron Moss for having the highest pledges with $514. Left, Emily Higgins, also of G.C. Huston receives her second place award from Rotarian Doug Fryday for raising $350.

Winterhawks560Saugeen Shores Winterhawks, left to right, Trent Hawke, James McHaig and Andy Mitchell with his 1-year old son Oliver, spent their time in between their semi-final playoff games skating with children at the Plex.

PERotary560Rotary Exchange student Natan Reinchow (front, centre) with Port Elgin Rotary members, back row, left to right, Pier Donnini, Melinda Myette, Doug Fryday, President Rob Dunlop, Erin Zorzi; front row, left to right, Ron Moss, Dan Murawsky at the Plex February 25. 

SouthamptonRotary560Members of the Southampton Rotary Club at the 15th annual Rotary Winterama event at the Plex in Port Elgin, February 25, left to right, Bob Speight, Karen Speight, Carol Lennon, Dave Lennon, Henry Weickert, John Cherrie, Lloyd Worsley, Bob Fitzgerald, Alex Thornburn, Pat O'Connor.

Pizza560Southampton Rotarian Karen Speight serves up some pizza for 12-year old Mya Galway at the 15th annual Rotary Winterama February 25.

RotaryHall560Children gather at the Rotary Hall at the Plex in Port Elgin for lunch, prizes and awards.

Rink560With limited snow outside, the Plex in Port Elgin was full of children of all ages enjoying the free skating.