Lincoln Elementary School in Madison, WI is just one of 60 schools throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan who participate in the ‘Nordic Rocks’ For Schools Program. A program developed to introduce a new generation of children in grades K through 6th to the excitement of cross country skiing.
An interview with Clare Seguin, an avid skier, as well as a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade science enrichment teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and participant of the ‘Nordic Rocks’ for Schools Program.
The ‘Nordic Rocks’ program provides each school with skis that are equipped with easy to use step-in bindings, curriculum materials, and consultations about teaching students how to ski. The CXC staff also helps to assign 2-3 volunteers from the community, who are cross country skiers, to assist schools and teachers.
For Lincoln Elementary and many other schools who participate, the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program is more than just an introduction to a new sport. The program teaches kids to live a healthy lifestyle, helps them focus better in school, and gives low-income children an opportunity to try something new. Skiing often becomes a lifelong sport for students and their families to enjoy in the winter. Overall, the student response to the program and cross country skiing at Lincoln Elementary has been a fun and positive activity.
“Some kids see the skis and say “oh great I go skiing all the time with my family” and that is very few of our kids because we have a high population of low income families. Lincoln Elementary has families and kids who are Bhutanese refugees, Hmong and Hispanic kids who are fairly new to the north so cross country skiing is a pretty new sport for the majority of our kids. We have kids who have never skied before and absolutely love it, which is always exciting, and some kids try it and don’t like. It’s always a little surprising which kids are going to like it and which kids don’t. After kids experience the program for one season, I have a lot of students come back the next year and ask if they are going to ski again this year.” Explains Clare.
Lincoln Elementary implemented the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program three years ago because it helped the school continue to teach their mission and focus on health and wellness for students.
“To teach wellness, Lincoln Elementary is developing outdoor facilities called “outdoor wellness.” The facilities include a trail that goes around our playground and a running club called Girls on the Run, as well as a gardening club. The school didn’t have a program in winter, so the ‘Nordic Rocks’ was the perfect program and opportunity to fill in that chunk of time during the school year when we have snow, to have kids on skis when running around isn’t as easy.”
With the convenience of having students ski right behind the school, Lincoln Elementary has seen the benefits of the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program not only as a way to promote wellness, but as a way to give kids engaging activities that will benefit them in school as well.
“Giving kids one more activity they find interesting and engaging, as a way to use their bodies to help settle their minds and be more available for the traditional learning is really beneficial and the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program provides that. We find when kids have those different things engaging them at school, asking the students to sit down and do their math and other homework is a little bit easier for them to do.”
We asked Clare why she supports the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program as a teacher and as a skier.
“I support the program because it is good for the students. I am also an avid skier and have known Yuriy Gusev, CXC Executive Director, since he started the Russian ski school and I know anything he puts his mind to is going to be good. What the program has provided for the students was worth jumping on the bandwagon. I always wanted to have something like this at my school and to have kids be able to ski around the school. This program makes that possible.”
During the inaugural season 2013-2014, the ‘Nordic Rocks’ for Schools Program was implemented in 15 schools throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. In two short seasons, the program has made an impact on thousands of new skiers. With over 3,500 elementary schools across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan the opportunity to teach children the joy of winter sports is virtually unlimited. The financial support from grants, corporate sponsors, and community advocates will help sustain the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program well into the future. The program will be adding 20 new schools during the 2015-2016 ski season for a total of 60 schools throughout the Midwest.
For more photos from the ‘Nordic Rocks’ program, visit the CXC SmugMug page.
Mary Kozloski is CXC’s Communication and Media Coordinator. Mary has a Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where she majored in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration, competed as a member of UW-Grean Bay Nordic Ski Team and was team captain for two years.