ROCKPORT — Midcoast Recreation Center is in the running for a grant award of up to $10,000 from WinterKids to launch a public skating and tennis program in nearby underserved communities.

Grantees will be selected by online community votes throughout the month of September. Each person may cast one vote per email address until Sept. 30 by visiting and selecting MRC on the website. If MRC receives this award, it will launch a “Pay it Forward” program inspired by some of MRC’s young hockey players, Dexter, and John Falla.

In 2021, Dexter and John had an idea. They wanted all kids in their community to be able to skate anytime they wanted to. For their ninth birthdays, they gave up gifts and instead asked everyone they knew to donate skates for their “Pay it Forward” program. In partnership with MRC and the St. George Parks and Recreation Department, their family put a lending library/locker next to their community’s outdoor rink. All winter long, community members borrowed skates and spent time at the rink – all for free.

Now MRC wants to expand their idea to provide skating and tennis equipment lending libraries in nearby underserved communities to give more people access to skating, hockey, and tennis. A donor has already come forward and volunteered to build the lending libraries. Now the MRC is seeking grant funding to cover remaining costs. If the grant is received, MRC will also provide free or low-cost programming at each site to get more community members learning how to skate and play hockey and tennis — all lifetime sports.

This program is part of MRC’s mission to promote healthy living in the community through fitness and sports programs.