The Pee Wee Olympics, at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Center, was one of those events where everyone seemed to be having fun.
The competition, held on April 30, was geared toward children 5 and under.
It gave youngsters who are too young to compete in organized recreational sports a chance to test their skills in 12 Olympic-style events in the gym.
Of course, the events were scaled down to suit the toddlers and preschoolers that took part.
The ‘weightlifting’ station, for example, consisted of two Styrofoam plates attached to a plastic barbell.
Other popular stations included the tricycle race, soccer kicking and mini-hoop shooting.
While some events — such as the ‘fast dash’ race — were timed, they were all done for fun. It wasn’t about who was the best, it was more about being able to finish the course. Kids were allowed to do as many events as they wanted, in no particular order. Those that completed every event at least once were awarded a participation medal, and an opportunity to get their photo taken on the ‘winners’ stage.
Creating a list of events and configuring them to be suitable for such a young age range was a process that took several hours beforehand, according to Mandy Stephens, a recreation leader at the complex.
“We were just throwing ideas on what supplies we already have…and adapting it to the events,” she said. “We had to be creative.”
That creativity appealed to many parents and guardians, who expressed their pleasure with the event.
They obviously enjoyed the event’s atmosphere, which centered on positivity and excitement.
Having the activities organized inside the recreation center’s air-conditioned gymnasium was another plus, considering the humid weather outdoors.
“I think it’s really cute,” said Cindy Griffiths, the grandmother of 5-year-old Kent Craighead. “It’s nice for the younger kids to get out, and everything’s made for the kids. When they’re young like this, there’s not a lot (out there), so this was nice.”
Mike Phillips, of Land O’ Lakes, gave the event high marks, too. “It’s really cool, I like the idea,” said Phillips, who brought two children, Kori and Rilynn, to the event.
The recreation center regularly organized an annual Pee Wee Olympics, but stopped a few years ago.
Center leaders decided to restart the event again last year and attracted about 35 participants. This year, it drew 55.
“It’s just something for our toddlers, or for the younger kids who aren’t in youth sports yet,” said Cindy Szappan, the complex’s recreation supervisor. “It’s something for them because the parents are always looking for stuff for their younger kids to do.
“Most of our other (activities) starts at (age) 5, (or) 6,” Szappan added. “So, it’s hard because they have active kids, but there’s nothing…sports-wise for them to do.”
With a sizable climb in participation compared to last year, Szappan plans to organize two Pee Wee Olympics events each year — one in the fall and one in the summer. Having two competitions each year will require additional help from about around 15 volunteers, officials said.
This year, several volunteers from Sunlake High School, Weightmann Middle School and the Central Pasco Girl’s Academy helped make the nearly two-hour event run relatively seamlessly.
“It was really organized and it really worked well for the kids,” said Nicole Busha, a Sunlake High junior who volunteered on behalf of the school’s Key Club.
Pee Wee Olympics Stations
There were 12 events at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Center’s Pee Wee Olympics:
- Tricycle Rally
- Shot Put
- High Jump
- Long Jump
- Hoop Shoot
- Soccer Shoot
- Javelin Toss
- Discus Throw
- Fast Dash
Published May 11, 2016