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MERRILLVILLE | When Merrillville Intermediate School students walked into the gym on recent day, they quickly realized it was not a typical Physical Education class.

The MIS gym had been transformed into a roller skating rink, music and all. Bobi Cole, sixth-grade PE teacher and Kim Jones, fifth-grade PE teacher, wanted to show their students that they can roller skate.

MIS participated with Skatetime School Programs to bring in-house skating to the students. Each student was charged $7 to cover the cost of the skate and wrist guard rentals.

The skating unit in gym classes is being implemented as part of an emphasis on “lifetime activities.”

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While most students outgrow team sports like volleyball and basketball, skating can be enjoyed throughout adulthood. Skating provides a variety of benefits, which include balance, coordination, motor skills, and a top-rated cardio-respiratory workout, according to the teacher.

Students learned basic skating skills such as starting, stopping, forward skating, backward skating, cornering, and a number of safety tips for being a smart skater.

Each class started off with Cole and Jones reviewing safety tips, and how to get up after falling down on skates. Once everyone put on skates, it was off the mats and onto the gym floor to roll.

Some students even asked Santa for skates at Christmas, so the bike paths around Merrillville could be filled this spring with students and parents roller skating for fun and exercise.

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