Roller Skating & Smiles

By Ellen Reader, Upper Valley Haven AmeriCorps Member

The Upper Valley has many great resources, but the area does have a lack of programming for middle school aged children. The Upper Valley Haven is an exception; one of the great things about the Haven’s after school program is that it includes middle school students. However, my position works with the kindergarten to third graders.

So, as a way to offer something special for an often overlooked group and as an opportunity for me to spend time with them, I took four of the middle schoolers from the family shelter roller skating. I roller skate regularly and it was such a treat to share something I value with others. We were at the rink for two hours and they only took two breaks to grab a quick drink of water before getting right back in the rink. I encouraged them to push themselves and to try new things- a couple of them were brave enough to try to do crossovers. Any time someone fell they earned a point, because if you fall it means you’re pushing yourself and trying. At the end of the day when driving back to the shelter, instead of bragging about not falling, they were going on about who fell the most and earned the most points.

It was so nice to see the smiles on their faces because it’s not easy living in a shelter and it’s not easy seeing your parents under such stress. Sometimes a fun afternoon away from it all is exactly what one needs. And, though it may be a bit cliché, they also got to see firsthand that it’s okay to fall, what’s important is getting back up and trying again.

Ellen Reader serves as the Education and Volunteer Associate for the Upper Valley Haven. During her off time, she skates with the Upper Valley Vixens, the Upper Valley roller derby team. The season is just beginning to get underway, and the Upper Valley Vixens have been inspired to serve their community and host a “Haven Kids Skate” on the first Sunday of every month; the “Haven Kids Skate” will match 6 youth members from the Upper Valley Haven with many Vixen team members. The Vixen’s 2014 season will officially begin with their first bout on April 12th, in Woodstock, VT.
*Photos owned by Big Dawg Images.

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