For students in ‘Eduskate', practice means more than just lacing up their skates. Funded by the Hartford school system, it is a program that teaches students the fundamentals of figure skating, as well as academics.
‘Their homework is done actually on the ice, every time that they practice, sometimes they get out markers and draw on the ice, they do math, science, reading, writing,’ said Melissa Gregory, director of ‘Eduskate.’
Gregory, along with her husband and professional skating partner Denis Petukhov, said the idea came from their passion for education.
"We feel like there’s a great connection between athletics and education and we had this idea and we had so much support from the state and the community, from parents, from everybody and it’s just blossoming," explained Gregory.
Open to middle school students in the Hartford area, ‘Eduskate,’ is now in its second year and has already doubled in size. For these two former Olympians, seeing the changes in the students has been rewarding.
"Attitude is the big thing, I think a lot of them sometimes have a low self esteem, so it’s really building up their self esteem, because they feel like they’re accomplishing something," said Gregory.
Petukhov added, "It is a positive experience and a lot of parents came to us and say thank you and for giving such a positive experience, I think in the positive environment like that, kids are learning better."
Friday, the International Skating Center in Simsbury will be transformed into a skating spectacular. ‘Proud Nation,’ the program’s finale event will feature the students, Cirque du Soleil stars and skating legend Dorothy Hamill.
Gregory said it is a moment they will not forget. ‘It’s important to us because we feel like we want to make a difference in people’s lives and we want to make a difference in the youths' lives.’
For more information on the 'Eduskate' program, click here.