AMHERST, N.S. – When Laura Farrow arrived here in 2010, she had no idea what to do with herself.
Having just finished seven years skating professionally with Disney on Ice, a job she put so much of herself into, she wasn’t sure if she was ready for a new lifestyle.
“I knew it was probably time to start trying to set down some roots, but I felt a little lost because I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. “How was I going to take that energy I had just spent the last seven years on, sharing with so many people around the world, and transition to something else I really loved?”
She didn’t wait long to figure that out. When the Cumberland YMCA approached her to teach dance classes there, she accepted. Soon after, she was doing choreography for Showcase Productions.
Like most things in her life, it just snowballed from there. Farrow went on to become the health, fitness and aquatics manager at the YMCA, a job that keeps her busy doing everything from dance and after school programming with children, to group fitness and personal training with seniors and adults.
And that’s just her day job. By night, she is a busy skating coach. When she is not coaching in Amherst, she is traveling to communities like Parrsboro, Debert, Springhill and, until recently, Tatamagouche and Oxford.
“My husband Phil always laughs and tells me I know everyone in Cumberland County, especially anyone under 12,” she said. “I work with so many kids, and feel I’ve been fortunate that way.”
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, particularly her work with women and girls. She recently became one of the first recipients of the Fundy Female Leadership Network Community Champion award, along with Amanda Thompson of Truro.
Farrow was presented with the award at the network’s AGM, where she was lauded for empowering women around the county to teach fitness, and being a strong role model for young girls who come for skating lessons.
“It ties in with that whole segment where you have to see it to be it,” said Shali Manuel, who co-chairs the network with Courtney Nicholson. “Having women like Laura in those positions, then girls can look and see that it’s possible for them as well.”
The award came as a total surprise for Farrow, who did not even know the network existed. She is now a member, and shares its goals of promoting leadership in our communities, especially with gender equality.
“I definitely think it’s important, especially because with younger females there seems to be a bit of disconnect there,” she said. “Not everyone has a great home life, and it’s really nice to hopefully be a role model for these young girls. Always, no matter what, I try to make it about giving back.”