Acro For The Next Generation

     Last week, one of our wonderful ArkansasAcro members, Lori Rooney, who is a high school teacher, invited ArkansasAcro to teach a workshop for her juniors and seniors. It was probably one of the most exciting workshops I've taught thus far.

     The school was Southside Bee Branch, a small campus on the outskirts of a small town about 45 minutes north of Conway. Scott and I arrived at the school early to set up. As we waited on students to arrive we introduced ourselves to some of the students already in the gym. They expressed to us how excited they were to develop their acro skills, which had already been introduced to them by their teacher, Mrs. Rooney.

     In preparation for this workshop, the first we've done specifically for teenagers, we realized that we would have to do things a little differently. When the workshop finally began, we started off in our customary opening circle. Scott and I introduced ourselves and then explained what acro is, deeply stressing the fact that it involves touch and that this touch is purely platonic. We wanted everyone to know up front that touching is required for the practice of acro and for safety reasons. We both felt that expressing this fact at the beginning of the workshop helped many of the students loosen up and feel more comfortable with the practice.

     As is our custom in ArkansasAcro, we posed a question to be answered with each student's introduction. The question we asked was "what is your favorite thing to do outdoors." We had some typical answers such as hiking, swimming, tanning but we also got plenty of answers like horseback riding, shooting guns, four-wheeling, etc. It made me realize that this is quite a different group of personalities than we are accustomed to at ArkansasAcro. My first thought was "we're definitely in rural Arkansas" and my second thought was "Wow! These kids really spend a lot of time outside, exercising their bodies and enjoying nature." This second thought made me realize how similar all humans can be, no matter their background.

     We decided to split the students up into groups of our choosing, so as to pair them up in a way that promised the most efficient progress. It was interesting to note that out of a group of 28 students, only 3 were boys. It was also interesting to note that students of all sizes chose to attend the workshop, a fact that excited me and made me very proud of the students' bravery.

     Once we finally got the kids doing some acro, I became even more impressed with this motley crew of young people. Many of the groups picked up on the moves with considerable ease. Those to whom the practice came with more difficulty rarely (if ever) showed frustration or signs of giving up. In fact, many of the students pleaded with us to stay longer after the workshop was over in order to practice and learn more. A group of them decided immediately to try out our Wednesday night classes.

     On our drive home, Scott and I could not hold in our excitement at the hard work and enthusiasm these kids put into their newly blossoming acro practice. One of the girls we taught that day was so excited about acro because she saw potential in the practice for preparing her for basic training. Some of the other girls were cheerleaders and found an interest in the similarities between the two practices. Most of the others simply loved acro for what it was: something new and exciting, terrifying yet invigorating, challenging but possible.

     Since then we have received a second invite to teach at another school. Scott and I have always had a heart for high school students. We have a deep desire to spread health awareness to the younger generation. In the past, we lightly played with the idea of teaching acro to high schoolers. Little did we know, that dream could become a reality.

     Thank you, Lori, for getting this started for us and thank you Southside Bee Branch High School for inviting us in and encouraging your students to try new things.