By Kaitlin Candelaria
They say once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you never forget. But does the same apply to unicycles?
Just ask the kids at Gwin Elementary School in Hoover.
Almost a decade ago, a Gwin Elementary teacher discovered a surplus of unicycles in the school’s storage and decided to use them.
Since then the Unicycle Team has changed hands several times, and this year teacher Erica Farnham has taken over.
“We’re all kind of learning together,” Farnham said. “We’re kind of in transition right now trying to figure out where the team is going to go and what we want the future to look like.”
The team, which is composed of about 10 children, is an audition-only group.
“In order to make the club, they start out riding the Pedalos, which kind of resemble hoverboards,” Farnham said. “So they have to learn to balance on that first and then they can move on to the unicycles. Once they can ride so many laps around the gym, they’ve made the team.”
The team meets twice a week before school in the fall to practice riding skills. They have several opportunities to perform throughout the year, including a performance at Hoover High School, performances at Samford’s basketball games and a performance during International Day.
“It definitely works on their balance and coordination and teamwork because a lot of the little tricks they do like partner turns and pinwheels require them to all line up and hold hands, so they have to figure out when to peddle faster and slower,” she said. “I like it because it forces them to talk and communicate with each other and it builds that sense of collaboration and team work. It’s kind of a badge of honor for the kids.”
Farnham said it’s also a great opportunity for her to see the student’s leadership skills as they start to emerge. However, despite all of that, she said the kids definitely still have a lot of fun.
“It impresses me that they’re able to do all of this even though they’re all so young,” she said. “But they’re still kids and they’re still going to be silly and cut up.”