We Are America

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Photo ofAnnika Jayne

When I was about seven, my dad showed me how to get on top of the monkey bar on our swingset. Yep. That's right. He showed me how to swing my feet up to hang on the bar, then helped me pull myself up and sit on it. It might seem out of the blue, but that helped me find my talent for acrobatics and silks. 

Silks is when someone basically does some sort of dance with two pieces of ropes called silks. They also could just hang suspended in the air, going into different positions, holding onto the pieces of silk with their hands and nothing else.

My dad’s helping me get on top of the monkey bars is not the only thing that got me started with acrobatics. I was at the playground when I saw another kid flipping off the swing. I wanted to try it too, of course, so, when we got home I went straight to the swing and tried it. I wish I could say I got it on the first try, but I didn´t. I've since mastered it, though. 

From there, I would try new tricks, pretending that the swings on each side of the monkey bar were my silks.  I would try hanging upside down with only my hands on the swings. I then thought that if I could hang upside down on the monkey bar, why not on the sides of the swing set? 

As of right now, I can flip off the swing, flip while holding onto the swing, hang upside down by my legs for long periods of time on the bar and the sides. I can get from one end of the swing set to the other without touching the ground, going from swing, to the bar, to swing and the other side to land safely on the ground.  I can hoist myself up to the top and go to the other side across the top using my hands.  I do get callouses on my hands, though. There is more, but it is basically branching off what I already said.  

The more I practiced, the more flexible I got. When I started, I couldn't do a backbend to save my life. Now I can hold it for several minutes. I know it's not that impressive, but I can do it now when I couldn’t before.  

What did I get from all this? If I had not tried to learn new tricks, I would have never found one of my talents. Why do I say that? Well, it's not the only thing I can do!  I can sing a bit, and I am hoping to learn guitar. I know it is not related to acrobatics, but it is something I realized I could do, and it is a talent I have, even though I am not the best. I put that in here because it is something I can do because I tried it, the same as the acrobatics. I would not have known I could do it if I didn't try.  That is the point I am trying to get across, that we will not know what we can do if we don't try.

© Annika Jayne. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.