Profile: Healthy Asian Youth Program Workshop
In 2014 we were approached by the Healthy Asian Youth program (HAY) the to run a workshop for their kids’ summer session. Delighted by the offer, we agreed, and ran an outdoor workshop for over 50 kids. It was an awesome day of play, exploration and challenges. The kids mastered an obstacle course, navigated a “laser web” (ropes crisscrossing through a space), and ran relay races. Through games, exploration and a little bit of grit and determination, the kids learned a lot about themselves and the world around them. In one of my favorite moments if the day, Coach Libby received a handmade clover ring from a young girl who had just immigrated to the United States from China and who barely spoke a word of english. To us, this showed how parkour can bring people together, spanning cultures and generations, to inspire and empower us to be and do more.
Parkour Horizons started with the goals of bringing the sport of parkour to people and communities and to help it gain recognition beneficial and positive sporting activity. Our partnerships with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department and other community organizations like HAY are an important part of achieving that goal. So when HAY asked us to come back and run another workshop this summer, we jumped at the chance.
It was about two weeks ago when Parkour Horizons finally had the opportunity to travel downtown to again run a workshop for the Healthy Asian Youth Program. Coaches Theo, Ethan, and Richard were there with assistance from coaches Dan and Jason. Over 40 students attended the workshop. Because of the large size, students came in two different groups of about 20 students during two different workshop times. One at around 11:00 am and the other at around 1:00, giving the students (and coaches) time to break and eat lunch. Each session began with a thorough warm up to help us prepare for the lesson ahead. After that, the students split of into three smaller groups of about 7 students to rotation through three stations that had been set up by each one of our head coaches. Students spent about 15 minutes at each station getting a taste of different parkour movements and skills.
Students in Coach Richard’s section worked on rolls — probably one of the hardest parkour techniques to master. But one that opens up tons of movement possibilities. Or, as Coach Richard said, “Not only are rolls fun and challenging but they are also a movement skill for life. Having the ability to roll, even at a novice level, can really help you avoid injury if you fall off a bike, trip, or get shoved.”
In Coach Ethan’s station, students worked on the basic parkour vaults, including step vaults, speed vaults, lazy vaults and even introducing the intermediate monkey vault. Students then worked on taking those skills and then combining them together into a route of 3 to 4 movements so that the students could work on developing the coordination and agility that traceurs call “flow”. This approach allowed students to learn skills one at a time and then apply them into context immediately, much like our gym classes. This is one of the fastest ways to learn and improve parkour skill work that we have seen. And when it works it’s a beautiful thing. Or, as coach Ethan reflected, “The best part was seeing the students get to express themselves and smile [and] watching the students progress. It is very rewarding to see someone working hard and improving with every repetition.”
Students in Coach Theo’s station worked on foot placement and coordination drills such as balancing, striding, and landing precisely. These movements help lay a foundation not only for parkour practice but also for general athletic performance.
Great job to all those involved. We’ll look forward to seeing you all next year!
Finally, I think I’ll leave the last word to our visiting coach, Richard, who wrote the following when reflecting on the workshop.
“The healthy Asian youth program parkour sessions were a great opportunity for the youth involved to be exposed to moving in their environment in creative and efficient ways while having the support from one another as well as from the instructors involved in the classes. Both groups showed an impressive ability to be there for one another in addition to focusing on new movements for themselves as they began to cultivate a new awareness of what they were physically and mentally capable of achieving as well as realizing the massive potential that they all have inside themselves. Both groups expressed a love for movement and play while allowing their curiosity to aid them in exploring the more creative ways of interacting with their environment. Needless to say I feel that their interest in parkour and movement in general has now pushed them in the direction of realizing that all these “obstacles” in their lives are just opportunities and challenges waiting to be overcome.”
The Healthy Asian Youth program is a program run by Asian American Community Services (AACS) a non-profit community-based organization serving needs of all Asian Americans in Central Ohio. Since 1976, AACS has provided leadership in developing the Asian community through its expansive and proactive programs and services. Their mission is to improve the well-being and quality of life for Asians in Central Ohio by providing social services and empowering individuals through education, training and leadership.
If you’re interested in the AACS or the HAY program, you can find more information at http://www.aacsohio.org/ .
Parkour Horizons runs regular workshops for community centers, parks, schools, and private organizations. If you think you might be interested in having us run a parkour workshop, just drop us a line on our contact page. From there we’ll get in touch with you to discuss how we might design the best workshop suited for your needs.