Friday, April 27, 2018

eXpat Creates Kids Skating Club in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador #AtoZChallenge #WATWB



Skating and rollerblading are relatively uncommon in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. It is becoming more common thanks to one man. Matthew Meinzer, a former semi-professional hockey player, has introduced Puerto Lopez kids to the joys of skating.


Kids flock to his practices and the participation level increases weekly. I have watched many girls transform from unsure on their wheels to beaming, confident skaters. The following 2:10 video is from March 9, 2018. (You can watch on YouTube here.)


With more than 10 years of coaching experience in New York City, Matthew is able to adapt practices to the skill level of the participants. Each skater receives individual tips and instruction throughout practice.


Practices often attract more than 20 girls and occasionally a boy or two.



Practicing without the professor


I took the following picture an hour and a half before practice. The girls said they were practicing on their own until Professor Matthew arrived, when organized practice would begin.



Global Roller Day


A highlight so far was participating in Global Roller Day on April 14, 2018. The afternoon was filled with laughter, wheels on pavement, and team tshirts.


It was a busy day! Sequence of activities:
  1. Skaters, parents, and spectators gathered at the practice rink 
  2. Skaters received tshirts with their first official team sponsor, the Victor Hugo Hotel, printed across the front
  3. Team photo
  4. The team skated the malecon and back to the rink (they added a new team member as one girl came running out of her house, skates in hand, to join them)
  5. A short exhibition practice for parents and spectators, some of whom normally can't attend practice
  6. Pot luck

Here is a small portion of their malecon skate (33 seconds). You can see how improved they are since the March 9 video. (You can watch on YouTube here.)


The kids loved displaying their skills during the exhibition practice in front of friends and family.



Equipment upgrades


When I first began attending practices in February, a few of the skate's wheels hardly turned (or did not turn). Some were missing ball bearings and others were misshapen. Have you ever had a shopping cart with a wheel that would not turn? It sounded like you were pushing that cart through the parking lot.

People visiting from other countries have brought ball bearings and other hard to find equipment. Matthew even melted down plastic bottle caps and forged washers from the plastic. (Why not ship them here? See my post about mail.) Kids show up early or stay late to have their equipment repaired.



Stop by or follow their progress on Facebook


If you are in Puerto Lopez on a Tuesday night, stop by the fútbol field they use as a rink at the base of the pier to watch practice and cheer on the kids!


Follow the club's progress on their Facebook page, Puerto Lopez club de patinaje, where Matthew shares photos as well as practice and event information.





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Today is the first time a post on Emily in Ecuador covered two blog hops.


#AtoZChallenge and #WATWB

  1. X in the A to Z Challenge, where we write the alphabet every non-Sunday in April. 26 posts in 26 days. I am a second year participant and I love it. Please check out What is blogging from A to Z for more information.
  2. We Are the World Blogfest, spreading positive news stories from around the world on the last Friday of every month. Find out more and join this blogfest on co-founder Damyanti's post Would You Join We Are The World Blogfest? #WATWB. Thank you to this month's #WATWB co-hosts Shilpa GargDan AntionSimon FalkMichelle WallaceMary Giese. Please check out their blogs for more positive stories!

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A look back


Last year for the A to Z Challenge I wrote Xanthophobia, Xenoepist, Xyzlacatosis.

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40 comments:

  1. What a great 'X' post, Emily. Expat (of which I was one for 14 years) works perfectly!

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    1. Thank you, Donna! How cool that you were an expat for 14 years.

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  2. An interesting write up about skating and how it helps the children. Really enjoyed the photographs and description, considering I have never tried it.

    X-tacy of travel: An Ode To Wanderlust

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    1. It not only gives them something active to do, it helps their confidence. When they begin, many of them fall a lot. If you watch the first video, each snippet is fairly short because I cut out all of the parts with kids falling. After a few lessons, they fall much less and I watch their confidence soar. As new kids join the lessons, they become mini-professors, helping the new kids learn to stay upright. So they are learning leadership, too.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Seema!

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  3. So good to see kids out playing, and what a talented bunch, I would be on my back in a second!
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2018/04/27/x-is-for-xanthi-greece/

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Give them an opportunity to be in a fun activity and they are happy to participate! Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Iain!

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  4. This makes me happy just looking at it!
    Thank you. :-)

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    1. You would love watching it in person, Jz! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  5. Fantastic job by an expat. And brings back fond memories of me roller skating back when I was a teen. Good job, Emily.

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    1. I have been so impressed by the job he does. Glad to bring back those memories, DC. Thanks so much!

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  6. This is wonderful! I love the photos of the kids learning to skate. Such a good [patient] man Meinzer must be.

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    1. He is super patient, Ally, and the kids all adore him. He first began coaching with Special Olympics as a teenager. He has loads of experience and clearly loves doing it! Perfect for the kids here! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

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  7. What joyous scenes! They took me back to my childhood when I went everywhere on my roller skates!

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

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    1. What a cool way to travel as a child, Keith!!! There are some girls on this team that I see more often in their skates than any other footwear. Thank you for saying exactly what one of them may say in 20 years!

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  8. Hi Emily - such fun to see ... and the happiness this brings to the community - excellent to have Matthew there as their 'professor' ... he sounds so caring - and obviously knowledgeable ... wonderful - thank you ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Matthew has certainly brought more smiles into their lives, not only with the practices themselves but how he runs them. I think each child goes home feeling like they received some special instruction time with the professor after every practice. Thank you for your continued support, Hilary!

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  9. Expat for X—why didn't I ever think of that? Love it, though. (Yes, I'm one, too.) And kudos to Matthew for this great thing he's doing! I remember learning to roller skate (and, later, ice skate), and it was such a huge thrill to vanquish that fear, to become progressively steadier on those wheels (or blades), and then finally to fly over the ice (or pavement)... Wow, I'm getting goosebumps remembering, haha. The wind, the speed... It's like flying.

    Thanks for this super feel-good story, Emily! And thanks for the visit over at Damyanti's blog—really loved hearing about your rescue experiences :)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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    1. You can use eXpat next year, Guilie! What fun memories! I feel like I am right there with you.

      I just jumped over to your blog - once this year's A-Z is finished, I am going to read your A to Z of Dog Rescue series from 2016. It sounds fascinating and educational, something that will come in handy.

      I am so glad we found each other through Damyanti's blog! Looking forward to hearing more about the awesome work you are doing. I have not written yet about my rescue experiences but it's on the list of topics for some later date. Thanks for dropping by and see you around!

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  10. What a terrific story! And, a great solution to the letter X.

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  11. I have hopelessly useless ankles which keep buckling at a moment's notice. No wonder I've never tried roller-blading. But this looks fun and there's genuine joy in the kids' faces.

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    1. Useless ankles is an outstanding reason to have never tried rollerblading, Varad. You could do as I do - photograph, provide support, and occasionally bake some cookies. That genuine joy you see is worth it! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

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  12. What a fabulous feel-good story! Just seeing those smiling (and determined) littles makes my heart happy. Kudos to Matthew - what a wonderful contribution to the community.

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    1. Their smiles are infectious, Deborah! We are fortunate that Matthew decided to come to Puerto Lopez and contribute in such a wonderful way. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  13. This is so sweet! It must be such a highlight in these kids' week. There is a man in our town who teaches duck decoy carving. It has totally changed our daughters' lives. They have both won awards for their ducks (I have too). They have more confidence, and new skills. People like Matthew are an inspiration!
    Facing Cancer with Grace-The Daily Examen

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    1. Duck decoy carving sounds very cool - such intricate and creative work. The new skills are great but, as you said, the confidence they gain is even better and they will carry that into their adult lives. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, Heather!

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  14. Skating is so much fun! No wonder those girls like to practice. It's a great skill they can continue long into adulthood.

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    1. Yes to everything you said, Lynda! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  15. Aww, looks like they're enjoying themselves! I miss the days when I could rollerskate.

    -Dorky Mom Doodles

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    1. Watching them makes me wish I'd moved my roller blades with me instead of selling them. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Erika!

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  16. Thank you for participating in the #WATWB this month!

    A great story!
    This is how kids should be - carefree... and having fun!
    It also keeps them busy and provides physical exercise... so all round benefits!

    Writer In Transit
    #WATWB April Co-host.

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    1. Carefree and having fun is exactly how kids should be - you are correct! You first introduced me to #WATWB during A to Z last year, Michelle. Thank you for that and for co-hosting this month!

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  17. Wonderful photographs Emily. Love them all--those smiles and that joy:) Awesome.
    Thank you for sharing:)
    X is for Xavier's College Canteen

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  18. What a wonderful, amazing way to give back...love it!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Donna B. McNicol|Author and Traveler
    A to Z Flash Fiction Stories | A to Z of Goldendoodles

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  19. Loved reading this and watching the videos Emily! The girls will be gaining confidence in their bodies and abilities. I hope they get sponsorship for skates but it's pretty amazing how they make do with repairs ... this in itself is heart warming.

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    1. Their confidence is so amazing to watch, Susan. A sponsorship for skates would be a dream come true but they are doing great with what they have. Thanks for stopping by, watching the videos and commenting!

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  20. This is such a happy and feel-good story. The smile on the children's faces says it all. Kudos to Matthew for bringing joy and smiles and fun in lives of so many kids. More power to him :)

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    1. Thank you very much, Shilpa! The smiles do say it all. :)

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