For the past several years, the Community Caring Council has organized a conference for Division of Youth Services (DYS) staff and youth as a part of their THRIVE youth program. The themes have covered several topics over the years including, finding your “spark” or passion in life. This year the conference was centered on positive coping skills for life. Often times our youth have difficulty coping with every day stressors and often turn to negative and potentially dangerous outlets. This year’s conference encouraged youth to focus on coping skills that build them up and causes positive life changes. In order to do this, we had several guest speakers demonstrate and speak on their talents and positive outlets they use to cope with life’s challenges.
The Community Caring Council had the honor of hosting the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team for the conference. The Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team consists of professionally trained gymnasts from the Chicago area. Their performance includes remarkable acrobatic stunts and tricks inside jump ropes, propelling off small trampolines, and amazing tumbling routines.
The team was founded in 1999 by Tim Shaw, a professional gymnast who was recruited by the Ringling Bros. Circus as a child. While their acrobatic skills are amazing the team is so much more. The young men on the team are inner city youth who are taught discipline, respect, integrity and teamwork. Founder and Head Coach, Tim Shaw, requires that all members stay in school and maintain a “C” average. Also, any association with gangs, drugs, alcohol or tobacco is forbidden. Many of the men on the team have found safety and guidance from being a part of this amazing team and have turned their lives around.
The Chicago Boyz Acrobatic team inspired DYS youth in our region to focus on their dreams and passions and not to let negative pressures get in the way. The youth also learned that there are positive outlets in life and some can lead to life passions and even careers. The team’s performance left many of the youth in amazement and excited to find something positive they can be a part of. One youth stated, “I want to go to Chicago now and try out for the team!”
A local karate school also provided a demonstration at our conference. The youth and staff learned about basic karate moves and disciplines. The instructor of KICKS Christian Karate School explained to our youth that she has learned to use karate to cope with pressures in her life. Several of the youth were excited to participate in a short lesson and were guided through a proper karate stance and punches.
Overall, this year’s conference was a success. The Community Caring Council and THRIVE Program want to continue to inspire youth in the Southeast Missouri Region and build up positive coping skills.
– Taylor Lauer, Youth Specialist