Skating lesson offers escape from pandemic stresses

The only reminder of COVID-19 were the masks that each student wore, but even those were easily forgotten amid the fun taking place across the gym floor.

Beneath an array of colorful lights and against a backdrop of eighties pop music, students last week zoomed about on roller skates during the final week of a unique educational experience.

Hanson partnered this year with the company Skatetime to rent 1,500 pairs of roller skates so that elementary school students at three local schools could spend five weeks learning how to skate and about the health benefits of this cardio workout.

“It’s a great form of exercise,” said Hanson, who skated with ease around the gym and sported a wig, big sunglasses and disco attire last week during a fourth-grade skate session.

This is the second year Hanson has offered the skating program in Glynn County, but last year only students at Sterling participated. She expanded it this year to St. Simons Elementary and Goodyear Elementary and hopes to involve more schools in the future.

“This program gets more buy-in from my kids than anything else I teach,” Hanson said. “They just love it.”

She also had support from the community to make the program affordable for students. It cost only $10 per child. They attend P.E. class twice a week, so each day of skating cost $1.

“With the COVID pandemic, budgets are just depleted everywhere, including mine, so we reached out to businesses, staff members and the community and they rallied behind us and helped us with the cost of this program,” Hanson said.

The five-week skating lesson helped students gain balance, get active and also develop self-confidence, Hanson said.

“What I want kids to realize is fitness can be fun,” she said. “And my tagline is: If you take good care of your body, you can have fun when you are old like me because I’m still out here doing all this. That’s kind of what I try to teach my kids, to take care of your body so that you can still do fun stuff when you have kids.”

Staff at Sterling were “disinfecting like crazy” in between lessons, Hanson said, which is another example of the ever-presence of COVID-19 fears this school year.

But for about an hour each week this year, students were able to leave their worries at the gym door, pull on a pair of skates, zip around the gym and have fun.

“In the last 11 months, none of us have had much fun,” Hanson said.

“We’re providing them with an atmosphere where they can just forget (the stresses of COVID-19) for five weeks.”