The other day while visiting an elementary school I met a girl I know. She was the same little girl that I remember from my first grade class over 40 years ago. She was shy, had little confidence, and felt she was not up to the same level as the other kids who were playing jump rope on the playground…but her face said, 'I want to play. I want to do something. I want to be included'.
So I walked up to her and introduced myself. I asked if she would like to join in on the game, and she said she was not good enough to play. I told her I would join in with her if she would like yet she still was hesitant.
When I pointed over to the hula hoops, and asked her if we could try that, her face lit up a bit and it was obvious she felt less aprehensive about going this route. We went over to the hula hoops and within a few minutes she noticed that my current midlife waistline was not "on board" for any hula hooping in that region of the body. So she suggested I try the arms. And, although I had to come to terms with the fact that I soon need seriously consider a weight loss program (but that is another story for another time) it worked, and we were 'off to the races' sharing our abilities to hula hoop that could rival the best of them. I then showed her that I could hula hoop with my neck and she showed me her expertise in all 3 hula hoop activities.
Within less than a few minutes, there were 4 of us, then 7 of us, then about 10 of us all wanting to hula hoop. Because we did not have enough hula hoops for the whole group, I asked the girl how we could resolve this. She suggested we line up and devise a trade off system. After 3 tries, each kid would high-five out with another and do the switch to that next one in line. Great plan!
Eventually, this little shy girl was showing the other kids how to jump rope with the hula hoop and, basically was leading the entire activity through recess.
After the bell rang, and the kids were all lining up for transition time, I looked at the little girl, with a big smile on her sweaty little face as she helped pick up and put away the hula hoops.
I thanked her and all the other students for such a great time…and at that point, it was clear to me that what we do at Playworks has far deeper meaning than just hula hoop.