The world of figure skating and the discipline, self-confidence and leadership skills it can bring just opened up for 300 Detroit girls ages six to 15.

Figure Skating in Harlem (FSH) has selected Detroit as the first city in a planned national expansion of its academic, figure skating and leadership program, Figure Skating in Detroit (FSD). FSH is the only organization in the world for girls of color that combines the life-transforming power of education with access to the artistic discipline of figure skating.

These young women will learn how to do an Axel, Camel Spin, Lutz, Biellmann and Salchow and much more. They will become empowered to succeed through comprehensive academics and education emphasizing STEM curriculum, healthy lifestyle resources, entrepreneurship, leadership and social skills training and instruction on critical thinking and problem solving.

According to the FSH website, 100% of its high school seniors graduate and go on to college.

“Having proved that our powerful trifecta of skating, education and leadership positively impacts girls’ lives, we are so thrilled to be expanding this innovative youth development model to a great city like Detroit,” says Sharon Cohen, founder and CEO of Figure Skating in Harlem.

The young women will attend special community workshops, summer camps, skating shows and events and ICE (I Can Excel),  a signature after-school program where they will receive four-to-six afternoons weekly of skating instruction and off-ice conditioning and educational services at the Jack Adams Ice Arena at the Adams Butzel Complex in northwest Detroit.

FSD will also use the ice rinks and facilities at Campus Martius and the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Twp. and perhaps the new Little Caesars Arena.

“Figure Skating in Detroit is designed to help young girls build a foundation on ice … a place and a program where young women can realize their full potential through access to information, resources and experiences that may otherwise be out of reach,” says Geneva Williams, Detroit leader of FSD. “This is a youth development opportunity for Detroit’s young women, wrapped around the fun, artistry and discipline of figure skating.”

Those interested in participating must be Detroit residents. Before acceptance the girls and their parent or guardian will be interviewed to make sure they can fulfill the time requirements and rigorous schedule. Once they are accepted each girl and her parents must sign a contract outlining their expectations and make a commitment.

Girls who participate sign a Skater’s Contract and are responsible for maintaining at least a B+ average in school, according to the FSH website.

FSD will provide all girls with proper equipment (skates, blade covers and bags) and attire (warm-up suits, sweatshirts and show costumes).


Figure Skating Detroit was developed in partnership with the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

“The introduction of Figure Skating in Detroit is a huge win for Detroit girls … and when Detroit’s young people win, the entire community and region reap the benefits,” says Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of MWF. “These young women will have what it takes to go far … whether it’s in the classroom, boardroom or ice rink.”

To find out more visit the Detroit section at www.figureskatinginharlem.orgor

The FSD Champions Committee Co-Chairs are Denise Ilitch, president, Ilitch Enterprises; Alissandra Aronow, international competitive ice skater; figure skating Olympic Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Peg Tallet, chief community engagement officer for Michigan Women’s Foundation.

The Advisory Council includes Dr. Akosua Barthwell Evans, founder and CEO of The Barthwell Group, who serves as chair, and Vice-Chairs Jerod Swallow, former Olympian and managing director of Detroit Skating Club, and Ellen Hill Zeringue, vice president of marketing for the Detroit Tigers. The Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation also is a strategic partner.

Corporations and other potential partners and sponsors interested in supporting FSD and its mission are asked to contact Geneva Williams at or or 313-962-1920.

FSD was announced as part of the annual holiday Tree Lighting festivities at Campus Martius Park on Nov. 18.


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