ABOVE: Girls compete in the 100-yard dash at the Harris County Street Olympics Final Event.
This past Friday, August 3rd, the 32nd Annual Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics Summer Games, co-sponsored by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, took place with about 2,000 boys and girls competing in so-called street games.
The top-three winners in each age group received gold, silver and bronze medals in the exciting competition at NRG Center. They competed in 12 events that included jacks, Hula Hoop, hopscotch, jump rope and foot races.
“We use sports as the carrot to bring our youth to positive, structured activities that also engage their minds and build character,” said Commissioner Ellis. “We are not just teaching the children about the game of jacks, hopscotch or Hula Hoop. We are teaching them about the game of life.”
Before the competition, the youth marched into the arena behind two high school bands in the opening ceremony that included three athletes lighting the Olympic flame.
“It was fun, competitive and a great experience,” said Julius Crosby, 13, of Finnigan Youth Education Town, who wore his first-place medal in the shuttle relay. “I also enjoyed looking at the animals (in the Discovery Camp booth) in Bright Futures Fair.”
Throughout the summer, about 4,000 athletes at 90 participating agencies’ sites competed to represent their youth centers at the Final Event.
The free Summer Games, one of the major components of the nonprofit Street Olympics, involved nearly three months of recreational and educational activities to engage youth in positive environments.
For five weeks, more than 500 boys and girls – ages 7 to 17 – at 45 neighborhood agencies participating in the free Summer Games competed in 3-on-3 Basketball. On July 18 at the City of Houston’s Fonde Recreation Center, about 300 players vied for trophies in the 3-on-3 Championship Tournament. Through practice and competition, the youth develop their confidence and leadership skills, which will serve them well both on and off the court.
When asked about his Division III Boys Championship, Jarren Smith, 12, replied: “Light work.” He added, however, it took a lot of hard work, dedication and teamwork to get to the tournament.
On July 27 at the Harris County Aquatics Center, about 240 Harris County boys and girls – most of whom recently learned how to swim – competed at Splashdown, a friendly swim meet. The annual meet features children who participated in the free Learn-to-Swim program directed by the Harris County Aquatics Program (HCAP), which operates year round. In addition to the life-saving skill, HCAP teaches youth discipline, leadership and teamwork skills.
Stephany Ramirez, 14, who participated in the Davis High School program, won first-place medals in the butterfly, backstroke and freestyle. She said she used her teamwork skills to encourage her teammates.
“My teammates were scared,” said Ramirez. “They were like, ‘Oh no, I don’t think I can do it.’ And I told them that everybody is fast. And they got first place.”
Also, youth attended two Discovery Camps at Deussen Park and Challenger Seven Learning Center, both of which offered a one-day trip to teach children about nature and the environment.
“The summer months are a vulnerable period for our youth, especially those whose parents work,” said Commissioner Ellis. “The Summer Games activities are designed to fill that void with positive educational and recreational activities that develop children’s minds and bodies.”