I have this friend Rosanne. She’s a Superwoman. She’s one of those women who can pretty much do anything, she is successful in business, and does what she loves. She’s my kinda people.
I asked her to help my #DLSZBestBuddies out with their October activity, this year, for a number of different reasons.
- Zumba is happy.
- Zumba is fun.
- Zumba gets the heart going.
- I knew the kids would LOVE it.
And they did.
The thing about my Best Buddies this year is that they are pretty much doing most of the work on their own running our club. They have elected their board, and their board (as well as the rest of the club) is constantly surprising me (and Ms. Mau and Ms. Juay) with all of the things they can accomplish in preparing for their Buddies from Integrated Movement Academy’s arrival and time spent in DLSZ.
Ok-for those of you just tuning in:
What is Best Buddies?
Best Buddies is an International Organization that was started over 25 years ago by Anthony Kennedy Shriver. He had a vision, just like his Momma, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He wanted to make the world a better place through friendship, much the same way his mom made the world a better place through sports.
So what does that mean?
It means that we match kids from our school in one on one friendships with another school. Our partner school is a school that caters to kids with special needs. We ask our kids to commit to us for one year, and within that year, we ask them to get to know their buddy and spend time with their buddy in a wholesome and meaningful way.
After our very successful MATCHING PARTY where the kids came up with the idea to “Find your FriendCHIPs,” Zumba proved to be an excellent activity for the kids to kick off the first Saturday of this October.
Rosanne, or Roxy as we like to call her, has this way with kids. Mind you, she works with KIDS OF ALL AGES. She is also a partner in the school that I have trusted 3 of my 4 children with in the beginnings of their education. The Little Apprentice was my preschool of choice when we moved here from New York. As an educator, myself, I know the importance of choosing a good preschool, and believe you-me…TLA has the goods.
Anyway, Roxy did a fantastic job of warming up the kids slowly. She explained everything very clearly, and kept things light and fun. Before the event, I was a bit worried that some of my kids (keep in mind these kids are in high school and can be a bit self conscious) might not feel so comfortable with dancing in public and with partners. I’m so glad that my fears were not realized because everyone was just so game.
This may also have been partly because our president Joie De Luzuriaga also gave them the pep talk just a couple of days before the event saying to not only come in bright happy colors ready to Zumba but to bring their “ready for anything and game to Zumba” attitude.
Either way, this combination of people involved in the whole Zumba day was a success, no matter how you slice it.
After our gentle warm up, we were so happy that Brother Bernie could join us for a bit. Brother Bernie has been so supportive of our cause from day one and has attended each of our events, excited to get to know the kids and their buddies. I’m so grateful for his support and belief in furthering inclusion. THANKS BROTHER BERNIE!
Before beginning our Zumba activities again, Roxy explained to the kids that they might need to get a drink. Sometimes, she explained, we don’t even know that we are thirsty…especially when we are exercising and breaking a sweat like many of the kids were.
There were a couple of times during the day that I was filled with emotion. The next activity which was of course Zumba based, was also a lesson in KINDNESS. (Of course, the tears were flowing again.) Roxy asked half of the group to sit down with their buddies and watch as the other half of our buddies followed the dance steps she taught them to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”
She also asked that the group sitting pay close attention to their buddies on the other side of the gym, dancing, moving, and grooving. She asked them to pay close attention because she also wanted the resting buddies to share something that they observed which their buddies did well. In a world where “Kindness is underrated,” and kids don’t often pay attention for very long because they get distracted easily, this was a nice reminder for them. THANK YOU ROXY.
Of course, just like in yoga and how we have to have everything balanced-she asked the same of the other half of our group and there was so more kindness, cheer, and love that I was happy to witness. I’ve seen a lot of kids at this age resort to cruelty and just plain being mean…this part of being a teenager always broke my heart…but here…with Best Buddies, I get to balance all that out with the beautiful moments shared in a simple activity like Zumba.
For snack, we thought it would be a good idea to have some fresh fruit and water for the kids, so that they wouldn’t feel heavy. The kids snacked on Fuji apples while they were catching their breath for the next activity Roxy would facilitate.
There are lots of different ways for the kids to connect. The activity we help them organize once a month is just one way for these kids to get to know each other. During this Zumba activity, I should have known that Roxy would pull out all the stops to help these kids interact with one another even more. The mirroring activity which followed our quick snack time did just that. Mirroring movements with their buddies was another way for the kids to connect on a different level. There are benefits to mirroring and mimicry…even Oprah believes that in most situations it’s a good thing.
Not wanting to overwhelm the kids with too much, the last activity with Roxy was another partner activity where the students coordinated dance steps and worked on a routine together…through the cha-cha…
This was fun, sweet, and a great way to end the morning’s activities.
Our Best Buddies in DLSZ prepared for a snack for their Buddies from IMAI. On the healthier side, they chose a simple chicken fillet and rice meal to share with their friends after the workout was done and they could sit and enjoy each other’s company before going home. These kids prepared for this snack by making sure they had enough money to cover their own meal as well as the meal of their buddy. This idea was presented by Joie, and after she suggested it, everyone was completely on board.
All in all, it was a successful activity that the kids put together to spend some more time with their buddies from IMAI.
Each time I work with these kids…I come home filled with gratitude. I’ll be honest. When we first started Best Buddies last year at this time, I wasn’t sure that all the kids would hit it off and that I would see real friendships formed. Yesterday, was just another lesson for me….
This lesson presented itself to me in a series of little moments. These are the moments when I know I’m doing something good.
Someone helping another to tie his shoe that came unlaced, another student grabbing a chair for his buddy because he was tired and needed to sit, and still another young lady, helping her buddy by getting his food for him and serving him. These little moments, the little acts of service and helping one another are things friends would do for each other all the time…but this time, it’s just a little different. This time, it fills me with a little more gratitude and maybe even gets me a little teary eyed. IT MAKES ME THANKFUL.
Then there are the bigger moments that I noticed when a group of boys began playing frisbee and pulled their buddies up from their chairs (and those buddies who took a little while to warm up jumped in too) to teach them that with the flick of their wrist, they could throw the disc and play catch too. And what I saw were some really great kids…just being their really great selves. During that moment, I said a little prayer that Gelli would meet big girls like that when she was their age…that they would be kind to her, and maybe teach her something new if she was willing…and really just try to be her friend.
And here…in this activity…that friendship-that’s what it is all about.
If you would like to know more about Best Buddies click here.
Thank you ROXY for sharing your time and your expertise with us. Thank you for bringing so much light and love to our Saturday morning. The kids had a great time, and you can see that from the photos I snapped.
Zumba with Roxy