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Roxbury community heralds new school year with skating celebration

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Kids and parents slowly filed in and filled up the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury Sunday afternoon, lining up for backpacks, haircuts, ice cream and — the braver bunch — roller skates.

The center hosted a back-to-school skate party from 2 to 5 p.m. ahead of the first day of classes Thursday. The event, organized by state Rep. Chynah Tyler, D-Boston, was made up of “lots of hands from the community,” including a mobile skate camp, local barbers, community organizations and several political representatives.

“It’s about making sure our students have what they need to be not only prepared for school but also feel confident in showing up on the first day,” said Tyler. “We want to make sure to do everything to support our students because we know if they feel good about learning, they’ll excel.”

Tyler said an hour into the event they’d had about 100 people and were hoping to triple that.

A volunteer reported the event received over 300 backpacks, along with hundreds of items like binders, pencils and crayons. Barbers volunteered three hours of haircuts, organizers rented out an ice cream truck, and even Door Dash donated gift cards to give out.

“You get a haircut, you look good, you feel good,” said Kalongie Bradley, a barber from Everything Is Real Hair Care, recalling his own time in school. … “I just wanted to help out the kids, you know, have them look fresh for school.”

For the first half hour or so, the gymnasium was filled mostly with eager volunteers and thundering music, an empty skating arena blocked off in the middle.

But eventually a couple brave ice cream cone-wielding kids beelined to the SkateFitBoston table, drawing watchful parents and a couple ungraceful politicians onto the floor.

“They’re loving it,” Tyler said, two young girls laughing as they collided in the more lively arena and fell behind her. “Skating is always like a number one thing. Glad we can provide an opportunity to do it in a safe space.”

BOSTON, MA September 4: Dianalyss Jimenez, 2, of Boston, is wide eyed watching her family getting their school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: Dianalyss Jimenez, 2, of Boston, is wide eyed watching her family getting their school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: A child takes a pencil while in line for school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: A child takes a pencil while in line for school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: Boston City Councilor Erin Murphy was doing exceeding well until hitting the floor, but with a smile, will roller skating during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: Boston City Councilor Erin Murphy was doing exceeding well until hitting the floor, but with a smile, will roller skating during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: Families in line for school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)
BOSTON, MA September 4: Families in line for school supplies during the 1st annual back to school event held at the Reggie Lewis Center, Sunday, September 28, 2022, in Boston, Mass. Backpacks, pencils, binders, crayons pads and other items were free to all grades school children. The event also allowed children to try their hand at roller skating. (Photo By Jim Michaud/ Boston Herald)

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