By Paul Peavy
One of my jobs is working as a therapist with low-income kids. One of my hobbies is competing in triathlons. When I thought about these things, I never could envision—and I’m paraphrasing George Costanza of Seinfeld fame, here—my two worlds colliding.
I am very interested in helping kids find a sport they find fun and will help keep them fit for life. The sport of triathlon does not usually come up as the most budget-friendly option, especially when you consider the expensive equipment involved, like bikes, helmets, wetsuits, shoes, etc. But, where there’s a will to build momentum, there’s a way, so to speak.
In our recreational centers in Tallahassee we have great basketball programs for youth and a very strong running club. But when the subject of triathlons came up for our inner-city kids, I could not see getting them to a pool to participate or even owning a functioning bicycle. The truth is that while most of the families I visit have bikes for their kids, the bikes have rusted chains and flat, rotted tires.
Recently, just as I was about to grab the microphone to begin announcing the Tallahassee Kid’s Splash and Dash, a swim/run event, a city of Tallahassee van pulled up and about 10 kids ran toward the pool. The event organizers did a great job of reaching out to the inner-city kids for this event.
As for triathlons, the city produces a series of three annually for kids, and now, organizers are working on a youth triathlon that will appeal to inner-city kids as well.
Here’s how I understand this event is coming together. City officials were finding it challenging to figure out how to make a triathlon happen for inner-city kids, so local community agencies, a health organization, and the community center director got together and decided they would make it happen.
Once these pioneers started getting the word out about what the objectives were, the snowball began to roll down the hill. Chuck Kemeny, head of the Revolutions Triathlon Team (and a double Ironman champion) will give competitive swim lessons at the community center pool. He also said that if the kids needed bikes and helmets, he would do whatever it took to make it happen.
Here’s the point. People who are the most passionate about their sport will find away to nudge the boulder toward the hill. Once they get it to the edge, the boulder will begin rolling downhill and momentum is likely to continue.
So, if you want to find a way to get kids or any population more involved in your event, go directly to the people who spend the most time with them to find out what you can do to make it happen.
With a passion for sports as a pathway to fitness, Paul Peavy is a motivational speaker, psychotherapist, storyteller and triathlete based in Tallahassee, Fla. www.paulpeavy.com.