Competition: A Partner In Education

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Competition: a Partner in Education

Our education system is about memorizing information and passing tests.    The standardized curriculum with standardized tests determines a student’s grade and influences college and career choices and unfortunately self-esteem.  The student’s innate intelligences or level of interest are not considered.   Can we change this formula and create environments that put our children into the equation and spur their creativity?  There are youth activities within our community that can be used to stimulate intellect while teaching social values and skills.  Interestingly enough, competition attracts young folk – look at the basketball courts indoor and outside.  Too often, adults fall into the trap of negating the significance of Sports.  Its role in physical fitness alone is vital to health but there are more to be explored.
Among the tournaments held in March and without the clamor that comes with PSAL Basketball was Families United Association’s Jammin’ Jumpers Competition (Celebrate Double Dutch) held at St. Peter Claver Gym.  Competing were 60 teams from Brooklyn, Albany, Long Island, Manhattan and the Bronx – a total of 180 girls competing.
Jammin’ Jumpers Coach, Ruth Payne, had been coaching basketball since 1984 and Double Dutch since 1987.   The young men she’s coached call her Ms. Ruthie and the girls call her Ms. Payne.  She explains that the girls came to Double Dutch through schools. Working as a Drug Prevention Counselor, she often counseled girls who were fighting and having behavioral problems.  “I realized that there was no sport for girls – at that time there weren’t too many girls attracted to basketball.” When asked about the benefits of the sport, Ms. Ruthie responded “self-esteem and social skills”.  She says that Double Dutch, more than any other sport, teaches team work.  Since there are only three girls on a team, each member knows the importance of their role on the team so they contribute their best.   She adds “They also learn to appreciate what each person brings to the team.” According to this proud coach, the girls form friendships that last throughout their lives.
Families United is affiliated with American Double Dutch League as well as the National Double Dutch League which holds an annual competition at the Apollo Theatre.   A suggestion by Ms. Ruthie that Double Dutch be included as a school sport has been approved by PSAL so more girls will have the opportunity to participate.  Ms. Ruthie holds DD Clinics at PS 3 and PS 56.  She says the girls, ages 8 – 14, usually train in the clinics for about a year until they’re ready to join the Jumpers. Six-year-olds were brought into the clinics this year.
The competition featured three divisions – Novice, and Advanced.  League officials judge timing, ability to perform certain tricks in the ropes and free styling.  First, Second and Third-Place Awards were given in each division and all participants received a medal.  Ms. Ruthie’s vision is an annual-tournament that depends on availability of funds.  Last year’s tournament was sponsored by Forest City-Ratner but this year’s was without a sponsor.  Needless to say, Jammin’ Jumpers would appreciate sponsors.
A powerful testament to this work is the fact that the young people volunteering at Families United coaching basketball, Double Dutch and dance are young adults, college graduates who played basketball or jumped double dutch with Ms. Ruthie as youngsters. The males who played basketball when they were 10-12 years old  and have now returned  as professionals giving back  include Ronnie Frances – Construction, Kojo Campbell – Math Coach, Everette Kelley –Coach at Westinghouse H.S.  Returning females include Kyaisha Murray – recent Lincoln U graduate, Helena McCalla – Math Teacher, and Nakia Jordan.  Supporting Ms. Ruthie are Deputy Directors Betty Cooper and Cynthia Wynn.  They are truly making a difference in the lives of our youth. .  Parents, educators and potential coaches:  for Jammin’ Jumpers call or e-mail Ruth Payne at 718-696-7665 or mailto:jammin.jumpers@gmail.com jammin.jumpers@gmail.com.
We will continue exploring activities that allow innate qualities to appreciate while building intellectual skills that has them pass the standardized test without draining their brilliance   Next time we’ll look at SCRABBLE with the Moses-Groce Word Power League.

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