Gymnastics An Alternative To Violence

Friday, February 23rd 2007, 9:53 am
By: News On 6

A local woman was so struck by the violence some Tulsa kids face that she quit her job to help. She's now turning a talent for tumbling into a way to reach out to at-risk kids. News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims reports on her goal to teach those kids to aim high.

Jennifer Patterson’s students are a bundle of stretchy, flexible energy. They’re rolling, tumbling and flipping head over heels for a new gymnastics program. Patterson is their helping hand, spotter and founder of Aim High Academy.

“I've been involved in gymnastics since I was four," said Patterson.

She's spent most of her adult life training regional champions and national qualifiers. But she had a change of heart, volunteering through her church in North Tulsa.

“And when I started hearing them talking about being afraid to go outside and how the parks weren't safe anymore, I thought, hey, I've got a gift, and I think we're supposed to use our gifts," Patterson said.

Patterson quit her job and started a new gymnastics program, aimed at kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn the sport.

“It was drastic,” she said. “I did quit my job and stepped out on faith, and just felt like this is what I'm supposed to do. And it has been amazing."

Jennifer's program is starting small, literally. She's currently working with three-year-olds, but she hopes the program will grow. In her teaching she doles out generous amounts of encouragement along with a dose of her faith in her lessons. She believes getting kids involved with gymnastics now could save them from getting involved in something negative later.

“I think so many kids feel like they're not a part of anything, so they’re willing to join anything,” said Patterson. “So I think the more that kids can engage in meaningful activities, the more likely they are to feel like they're a part of something."

Aim High Academy is enrolling three through five-year-olds for an after school program at John 3-16. If you're interested, call 296-4668.