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SKATE for Girls program helps girls gain confidence on the ice and in the classroom

WILMETTE. Ill. — Mathematics and figure skating came together Saturday to help young girls develop their skills on the ice and in the classroom.

Just as Chicagoland celebrated the unofficial start of summer and warmer weather with the opening of beaches across the area Friday for Memorial Day weekend, nearly two dozen girls took to Centennial Ice Rink in Wilmette, pairing pirouettes with the Pythagorean theorem.

“I’m here to say that girls can do math, girls can do whatever they put their minds to,” said Mayumi Suzue-Pan, founder of SKATE for Girls. “They can do whatever they put their mind to.”

A four week course that takes place once a week, Suzue-Pan created the program with the intention of not only teaching young girls how to move on the ice, but also enriching their math skills off of it.

“When I was put into advanced math classes in middle school, it was always super tough looking around the room and seeing that I was really like one of a few girls,” Suzue-Pan said.

In many ways, Suzue-Pan is living proof of what the SKATE for Girls program stands for. Still in high school, Suzue-Pan is a two-time US Figure Skating gold medalist who also works as a math tutor, which led to the creation of the program and students enjoying what it has become.

“It involves something that’s academic that I really like and something that’s my hobby since I was two years old,” said Mia Bederman, student and fan of math. “Just combined, it’s perfect.”

Suzue-Pan said after launching several months ago, she has engaged other parks departments in the area about expansion with the intention of adding more classes over the summer.

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