Year of Joy Ice Skating Party empowers underserved youth
Makayla Jackson, Rylan Flugence and Amiyah Harper attending the Year of Joy held in Dec. 2019. Photo by Aswad Walker.

The 6th annual H-E-B Year of Joy Holiday Ice Skating Party, a private ice-skating party for children from specific underserved communities, takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at Green Mountain Energy Ice at Discovery Green1500 McKinney.

“I had always wanted to do something that was inspiring and that children from communities that may not have exposure to ice skating could experience what I experienced with the sport,” said Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle lifestyle and culture columnist who was Houston’s first African American figure-skating coach while in college.

The event is one of many programs created by Year of Joy, Sewing’s 501c3 nonprofit organization that exposes local underserved children to cultural, educational and empowering experiences.

“I started the Holiday Ice Skating Party in 2016 with just one school, 30 kids from Woodson Elementary, and it was pretty amazing. So, we just kept it going and it’s evolved and gotten bigger.

This year’s event will host 100 children from Third Ward and surrounding areas representing Hype Freedom School, Southside Community Center, Blackshear Elementary and SEHAH Youth and Fitness Center.

Event co-sponsor Discovery Green Conservancy and Ice Rink Events is covering participant admission and skate rental fees.

Houston skating coach Dayyanah Coleman, a Haitian native who started ice skating as an adult, will perform, along with other competitive Black figure skaters. Coleman joined Sewing’s initiative as a performer in 2019, and her participation has grown since. She now coaches the Year of Joy Figure Skating Scholars, high school students showing promise both on the ice and in the classroom.

This year’s scholars, Hailee Brown (Shadow Creek HS) and Aniyah Treadwell (Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy), both ninth graders, will be on hand to demonstrate their talents.

Coleman noticed Hailee and Aniyah’s potential immediately.

“I noticed that they were skating with no fear and such confidence, and that they seemed to love what they were doing in that experience. They kept coming up to me like, ‘Ms. Dayyanah, how you do this, how you do that?’ And they’d go ahead and try everything.”

“When we first got on the ice, it was pretty easy, like roller skating and ice skating kind of felt the same to me,” said Aniyah. “Still, when they called Hailee and me about being Ice Skating Scholars and lessons, we were very surprised,” said Aniyah.

“I was excited because I thought it was a good opportunity and it was something that I liked to do,” added Hailee.

Since April, the girls have received free ice-skating lessons with Coleman and their first pair of ice skates and gear.

Though this year’s skating party is the biggest yet, Sewing still seeks to touch more lives.

“Ultimately, I would like more young people like Aniyah and Hailee to get to experience ice skating and feel the joy that I feel when I’m on the ice. And it’s more than just learning to ice skate. It’s learning something that they may not have exposure to before. It’s a confidence builder. I mean, when you go from being hardly able to stand up on ice, to being able to do a one-foot spin, that’s a big confidence booster and these young ladies are moving in that direction,” Sewing said.

Miss Houston ambassadors and Santa Claus, a volunteer with 100 Black Men of Houston, will join the fun.  KPRC 2 anchor/reporter Sabirah Rayfordwill serve as emcee. Mayor Sylvester Turner is scheduled to visit the children.

Alliantgroup, with a team of employee volunteers, will provide the invited children with holiday gift bags and STEM kits. All participants will be required to wear masks during the event.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...