Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer's End (Ellie)

Last week was Ellie’s final week volunteering with us. For those of you who don’t know, Ellie’s the striking young woman dressed in all black who’s popped up in our senior selfies. I first met her in early August and she said she was working at the Philadelphia Senior Center for the summer. It was only for the summer because she had to go back to Temple University to get her Masters’ Degree.
Ellie was an amazing volunteer, adeptly writing for anyone who needed it, setting up the room, talking with all sorts of older buds—even the ones outside Best Day—and coordinating some of the senior selfies! Every Thursday, she’d go home and tell her daughter all about Best Day...and she said she wanted to come to the workshop too!

Because of the time frame of Best Day, it’s hard to find volunteers who become regulars, especially during the school year. But every volunteer who comes leaves an indelible mark on the older buds. And every volunteer has their own story to tell.

Ellie Scicchitano
Roller Skating

I first decided to try roller-skating in January of 2017. I bought myself a pair of rollerblades since they reminded me of my childhood when everyone used rollerblades. I remember the kids in my neighborhood would glide around on blades and it looked like fun.
I bought my daughter a pair of regular skates – we call that style “quads” in roller-skating culture – and we paid a visit to our local skating rink. My daughter and I are fortunate enough to live near a roller-skating rink in a city that has so few of them.
First, we practiced at home on a tile floor. We learned how to stand up on our skates and keep our balance. Once we felt comfortable, we took our humble skills to the local rink.
Roller-skating requires more than a fair share of bravery. The floor of our rink is
hard and unforgiving and there are other skaters around of varying skill levels.
There is een a huge sign above the entrance to the rink in the lobby that warns skaters of what could happen to them just by skating. It is a participation sport and it is risky.
Still, my daughter and I bravely put on our skates and stepped onto the rink. At first, I was afraid to look away from my feet. I watched my skates as I circled the rink, hoping to anticipate a fall and stop myself in time. There was also the issue of keeping my balance, not leaning too far back or two far forward. Speed wasn’t even a concern at this point – only staying upright was!
Thanks to my practice at home on the tile floor, I was able to hold my own pretty
well – and being young, my daughter took to skating very quickly. The first problem I had was amazingly recognizing when I was too tired to continue. On rollerblades, one’s ankles take a lot of stress. At one point, I fell and landed on my tail bone. It hurt so badly that no medication could dull the pain. I said I would never skate again.
The most wonderful thing about roller-skating is how it parallels life: When you fall, you learn to get back up and keep going. And I did: The next day I returned to the rink and tried again and kept trying. Each time, I got a little better.
Eventually, I switched to regular skates and my daughter switched to blades. I kept practicing though at one point, I had to take a break due to schoolwork, but I took it up again recently. And I found that my learning curve had gotten faster and I learned how to fall “safely”; landing on muscle or on my hands in a push-up position, to spare my knees. I also learned a move called the crossover for turns and I can skate backwards, though not very fast.
I’m still nervous about falling when I step onto a skating rink, but it’s gotten a lot
easier. And if I do fall, I know exactly what to do: Like everywhere else in life, I pick myself up and keep going.

Thanks for all your support, Ellie. See you soon!

Curated by Caitlin Cieri