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Camp introduces new sports to children
Denisse Lopez of Turlock High is ready to throw the Frisbee during Westside Ministries Sports Mania on Tuesday morning. The program helps kids learn a new sport. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
The kids were all hot and sweaty, and they still wanted more.
A group of local kids had just finished their second session of the Westside Ministries Sports Mania at Wakefield Elementary on Tuesday morning. They got a dose of kickball and ultimate Frisbee, sports they don’t see too often.
But program director Lydio Banana lost track of time, using some of it to explain the basic rules of the unfamiliar sport of ultimate Frisbee. It forced him to suspend the practice before everyone had a chance to rotate and take a crack at each sport. Kids growled.
But there’s good news: Sports Mania, which is being introduced for the first time this summer, continues today until Thursday with the sessions taking place from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. So, there will be more time for kickball, ultimate Frisbee and dodgeball, as well as four square, a playground classic. The program is free and available for kids who completed second to ninth grade in the Wakefield, Osborn and Cunningham school districts.
It’s also a part of Westside Ministries’ goal to help kids stay off the street by doing something productive during the summer. For the past five years, children in the community have been given opportunities to participate in learning various sports by experienced players. The two previous weeks included hours of playing soccer.
This week, Banana said most of the usual participants are at a summer camp while others are in summer school. So the program decided to add a week of introducing new sports. Some 40 kids showed up for Tuesday’s session, compared to almost double that number during one of the soccer sessions last week.
And so far, the kids seem to enjoy it.
“They like it a lot because they get to play different games,” said Celina Peralta, a Turlock High student who works as a mentor. “They get to learn and play with other kids.”
The summer sports program isn’t limited to those activities. The kids also swim in the pool at Columbia Park in the afternoons after grabbing lunch at Westside Ministries and spend time sharing values in life and sports in an activity called Huddle Up. And some of them are learning a dance routine for Saturday’s Fourth of July Patriotic Parade and Street Fair with Car Show in Turlock.
“We teach them to be good citizens and better team players,” Banana said. “We talk about courage every day. We’ll teach them good values and how to be good citizens, things like that.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.