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Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Sixth-graders from David Gourley Elementary School in Kearns hold hands as they skate in a circle during their skating lesson at the Utah Olympic Oval as part of the Healthy Kearns Initiative on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

KEARNS — There are some lessons elementary students can’t learn from a textbook.

For example, ice skating.

“The confidence in these kids from day one to day five is amazing,” said Tiffany Kennard, a skating instructor at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.

Dozens of elementary students were learning how to figure skate at the rink Wednesday during the final days of a five-week course.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Sixth-graders from David Gourley Elementary School in Kearns skate at the Utah Olympic Oval as part of the Healthy Kearns Initiative on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

You could see the confidence in many of the students as they were skating around the rink.

“Ninety percent of these kids were on the wall the very first class holding on for dear life,” Kennard said with a laugh.

Now, many of them don’t need the wall.

“I really love it and it’s really fun,” said sixth-grader Natalie Romero.

It’s definitely a lot of fun, but there’s also a reason for this class these students might not realize.

“Our whole goal is to get these kids out leading a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Lisa Bennion Rasmussen, who works with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation.

The program is called Healthy Kearns Initiative. The idea is, since the Utah Olympic Oval is in Kearns, why not get elementary students in the area to be more active by inviting them to the oval to learn to skate.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Jennifer Margetts, figure skating coach at the Utah Olympic Oval, works with sixth-graders from David Gourley Elementary School in Kearns, during their skating lesson as part of the Healthy Kearns Initiative on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

“The statistics in Kearns, they’re challenging,” said Bennion Rasmussen. “They have a high rate of Type 2 diabetes, high rate of asthma, and we want to help prevent that.”

Skating is one way to get kids moving. More than 700 students are participating in the program.

“Any kind of program where you can get your children out there to do something, whether it be skating or swimming or whatever, is beneficial,” said Linnette Pace, who was at the oval to watch her daughter skate.

Pace’s daughter, Brooklyn Harms, loves skating.

“I have a lot of fun,” she said after trying some dance moves on the ice.

Her mother said she already notices a difference.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Sixth-graders from David Gourley Elementary School in Kearns listen to instructions before a skating lesson at the Utah Olympic Oval as part of the Healthy Kearns Initiative on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

“It gives her exercise. It gives her something to do and make new friends. It gives her a whole other world that’s just so beneficial,” Pace said. “I am so proud of her. I had to convince her to go to the first session, but now I think she is really into it and she loves it.”

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Skating can get expensive, and not every student here might have the opportunity to try something like this.

However, another benefit of this program is its absolutely free, thanks to several donors.

“We provide transportation, instruction and the skates,” said Bennion Rasmussen.

In return, the students just skate and laugh.

And not a single one of them were playing with a cellphone.

“No they’re not,” said Kennard. “They’re getting exercise, they’re using their brains and their feet without looking at their feet. It’s kind of fun.”

The kind of fun that could lead to a healthy lifestyle.