While many Americans await the start of the Summer Olympics in London, Fort Bragg Armed Services YMCA kicked off its own version with the annual Kids’ Olympics at the Main Post Polo Field June 18.
“The Kids’ Olympics started (on Fort Bragg) 13 years ago,” said Lynne Grates, Armed Services YMCA executive director. “I got the idea while my kids were in Cub Scouts in Germany. Every year while we’re in Germany, their Cub Scouts group would have kids Olympics at the Nuremberg stadium. So, when I came back, I kind of stole the idea and started it here.”
The tradition of Kids’ Olympics started in 1999. The event usually takes place in August, but this year, it was moved to June to catch youth just coming out of school, Grates said.
More than 100 children, separated by age ranging from 5 to 12, years old, took part in the day’s featured events. Each child ran timed runs, shuttle runs, crabwalk and obstacle course. Participants were also judged on pushups, sit-ups, softball throws and jump rope.
“It’s all about sportsmanship, good health and having fun,” said Grates. “Kids don’t actually compete against one another. They actually run each event individually so there isn’t any pressure put on them. It’s been really successful.”
Family members were encouraged to not only cheer on their children, but to become a part of the action. Parents joined in and helped pace their children in the timed runs, matched kids in the jump rope counts and demonstrated crab walk skills all in the name of Kids’ Olympic fun.
“We started doing this (Kids’ Olympics) with our oldest son who is 15 now,” said Anke Turner, Family member. “Now, my 10 year-old Justin is a part of it. It’s great that kids can get out and have an active, fun day together.”
Even though these games weren’t on the world stage like the Summer Olympics in London, participants loved the cheers and accolades.
“I loved it here,” said Mykyl Shlwell, 5, Family member “My favorite thing about today is everybody cheering for me.”