Boys and Girls Club hosts community skate night

As he roller skated around the gymnasium at the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, Jamison McFarlane said he hadn’t been on skates in 30 years.

Growing up in Columbus, he often went to the roller skating rink there and also at Rok-Sey in Seymour.

“We used to go all the time, me and my cousins, at Rok-Sey and Columbus. That’s what we did. We didn’t have cellphones back then,” he said.

Lacing up roller skates and making laps around the gym Friday night, McFarlane was glad to see it still came natural to him.

“It felt really good. It felt like the good old days,” the Brownstown man said, smiling. “It stuck right with me.”

This time, though, he was joined by several family members, so he was able to share the experience with his wife, Bobbie, and kids, Hannah Root, 16, Jamison McFarlane Jr., 14, and Summer McFarlane, 5.

It also had been awhile since Bobbie had roller skated, but Hannah said she had done it about three years ago. She first roller skated in physical education class in elementary school and then went skating on a school trip in middle school.

“It was hard but fun,” Hannah said of learning how to roller skate.

McFarlane said his son wasn’t able to roller skate at all, and his youngest daughter was trying hard.

“It’s hard to explain to them how to do it. I think when they put their skates on, they want to walk,” he said. “It teaches the kids balance and trusting themselves to actually stay up.”

Bobbie said it was just good to get the family together for a fun, free night of roller skating.

“Without this free event, we wouldn’t be going skating,” she said. “I’m glad that we could bring them skating since we don’t have the skating rink in Seymour anymore. There’s not a skating rink unless you go to Columbus. I wish we could do this more often.”

Three hourlong sessions were offered to families Friday night. This was the fourth year for the Boys and Girls Club to host a roller skating event, which was called Remember the Rok-Sey the first three years.

This year, it was just called a community skate night.

The event was free thanks to the Boys and Girls Club receiving a grant from Children’s Bureau Inc. to cover the cost of skate rental from Skatetime and refreshments.

“There are not a lot of opportunities for family engagement and relationship building, and it’s even a bonus that it’s free of charge,” said Lara Wheeler, director of resource development for the Boys and Girls Club. “That just makes it extra special, too, so it takes the barrier of cost away. There are not too many things that you can take all of the members of your family to that’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg.”

The club had the roller skates for the week leading up to the event to give members a chance to try them out.

“That has been really fun,” Wheeler said. “Watching all of the little ones that were really hesitant at first try something new to get out there and then through the week, they are really proud of themselves that they can make it all the way around, that’s actually the best part.”

On Friday night, club members and others from the community were invited to roller skate around the gym as music played.

“It’s really good outreach, but it’s also a way for us to get community members that maybe have not been in the club to come in and see it,” Wheeler said. “We’re a part of the community. We’re in the community. It’s just we want to be for the whole family, and of course, we hope that they become club families after coming in. Sometimes, it just takes that first step.”

The club decided to keep the roller skating event going due to the really great feedback from previous years, and Wheeler said it was great to see families have a good time again this year.

“For a lot of the families, they haven’t been given an opportunity to do it, and we’re talking about all ages, from the little ones to some of our older members and some of the parents. This is the first time or they’ve only been able to do it once or twice,” she said. “What’s really neat is that since we’ve done it for several years, to see the families keep coming back and doing it. It’s a way that everyone in the family can do something together and get that bonding aspect.”