When I got to the park and set up all my wonderful stations. I thought as soon as they see the set up they would be excited and ready to workout. The buses arrived and out came what looked to be the youngest group of zombies I had ever seen. These kids did not come running to me. It was as if they were dragging towards me but yet away at the same time.
I put on my most welcoming face smile and said hello but there was complete silence. Three kids right off the bat peeled off and ran to the basketball court. This was not how I envisioned this. They were not impressed with my muscles. They could care less about the apparatus that was set up and it seemed my words had fallen to deaf ears. they could care less what came out of my mouth.
My ego was scorched and that was just the gut shot I needed. I turned to the director and said, “My God these kids have been through hell and back!!” She quietly nodded her headed. I immediately went deep and thought about the 41 foster children my mother and father cared for. Some diseased, some battered and some severely abandoned. I remembered the pain of watching them live through it. But I also remembered the healing heart of my mother and how no matter they came in when they left her house they would know love. That is when I retooled my strategy.
I’m not going to just coach them through this I’m going to go through this with them for one hour. The first 10 minutes I was exercising by myself, but every minute I asked if one would participate. It seemed every minute afterwards one would join until half of the crew tried something.
My favorite moment was a young girl who waited until the last exercise to jump in. Her task was simply to jump over one small hurdle. She walked up to the hurdle and stood in front of it for at least a minute as I begged her to jump over. Counselors stood up in amazement and other kids cheered because she never moves at all. She looked around and could not believe the cheers around her. On bended knee I said to her, “Jump over this little hurdle and find out something good about you!” When she jumped over and the crowd went wild. The look on her face was priceless.
There was still a good portion of kids still sitting there, but one of the kids that sat out asked if I was coming back. I said, “If they’ll have me, I’ll be back!” I got the most positive response I could get from that young man, “Psst, Yeah right!” With that it was time for me to leave on a good note. I began picking up my equipment and as I started loading up my tools the kids began helping me carry my tools to my car. The counselor advised this was a first.
Listen it does not matter how deep or scarred a child is. It is in their essence to be active. These kids were at extremes of neglect, but how many kids with good homes and good parents leave the TV or video games to raise them. Your kids really don’t want those tools to keep them entertained, but that is all that they know. It is up to you to impart wisdom and confidence in your child. It is up to responsible adults in the communities to reach out to at risk youth and provide mentorship for them. Yes, the kids want it too!
You don’t have to be a fighter to feel like one so let’s train!
For more on CJ and programs or to request CJ speaking engagements go to www.cjff.org, call 1.424.456.7306 or email firstname.lastname@example.org