Jones Center in Springdale Starts Gymnastics Program

April 25, 2014 | NW News

SPRINGDALE -- Children have more activity options at The Jones Center because of a new gymnastics program.

Children tumbled across the floor at the center Wednesday evening. They practiced walking on releve -- a dance and gymnastics term for rising up onto the toes. Samantha Harp, instructor, held the children's arms in the correct position as they practiced walking on the beam.

At A Glance

Gymnastics Benefits

• Develop strength

• Develop flexibility

• Develop coordination

• Learn listening skills

• Learn about setting goals

• Gain self-esteem and confidence

• Children get to interact with their peers

Source: USA Gymnastics

The program started the first week of March, and there are about 25 children enrolled, said Michael Kirk, director of recreation for the center. The fee is $25 a month for one, 45-minute class each week.

Ages of children in the program range from 3 to 10. There's no set age limit for how old a child in the program can be, although 12 is the age they're considering as the maximum.

The program is good for children because it allows them to learn a new skill, Kirk said. It also keeps them productive and allows them to burn energy.

"It gets them out of the house and doing something," he said.

Amil Cruz, mother of a 7-year-old girl in the program, said the Wednesday evening class helps her daughter burn some energy before bed time. When they get home, her daughter takes a bath and quickly falls asleep.

Esmeralda Pozos, mother of a 5-year-old girl in the program, said her daughter gets extremely excited when it's time to go to gymnastics class.

"She wishes she could come every day," she said.

Ivanna Jimenez, Cruz's 7-year-old daughter, said she had never done gymnastics before taking the class, and she wants to keep doing it. Her favorite part of the class is using the spring board.

"You jump really high," she said.

Gymnastics also can help children develop mentally and physically, said Cheryl Jarrett, vice president of member services for USA Gymnastics, a national organization associated with the U.S. Olympic Committee. By participating in gymnastics, children learn to fall correctly without putting their arms out, overcome their fears and develop confidence in their abilities.

"I think, more than anything else, it helps to develop a healthy self-esteem," she said.

Children also develop coordination, agility, balance, strength and flexibility, Jarrett said. While learning skills, they also learn what their bodies are capable of doing.

"There's no other sport that works every single body part like what this does," she said.

Kirk said he initially thought of the program because of his experiences at the Boys & Girls Club in Fayetteville, where he worked eight years. The club has a popular gymnastics program, and he said he thought a similar program would work well at the center.

There are three levels in the program, according to The Jones Center website. Intermediate level is the only class without any children, because they are all in the lower level classes and are learning basic skills, Kirk said. Officials will not be able to expand the program to serve teens or adults because of a lack of space.

Since most of the skills children are learning in the program are basic, it's a good way to introduce them to the sport and find out if they like it, Harp said.

"It's very beginner, but they are very important skills," she said.

STAFF PHOTO SAMANTHA BAKER • @NWASAMANTHA Students watch as Emily Pozos, 5, practices a backwards roll during a beginning gymnastics class Wednesday at The Jones Center in Springdale. 

STAFF PHOTO SAMANTHA BAKER • @NWASAMANTHA Students watch as Emily Pozos, 5, practices a backwards roll during a beginning gymnastics class Wednesday at The Jones Center in Springdale.