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Local children learn tumbling at recreation center

Kimlien Campbell decided a few weeks ago it was time to do something about the constant jumping and rolling around that her 7-year-old son, Nathaniel, and her 6-year-old daughter, Briana, were doing in the family's Hampton home.

She decided to sign up her children for a weekly tumbling class at the Jim Huie Recreation Center, which is located at 9045 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro. Briana and Nathaniel have now attended two classes, and both are already doing forward rolls and cartwheels.

"They do it at home all the time, so that's why I decided to go ahead and sign them up for this class," said Kimlien Campbell.

The Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department offers tumbling classes at both the Jim Huie and Carl Rhodenizer recreation centers. The instructor for the classes is Natalie Cole, who said she has been teaching tumbling to young children and teenagers for 25 years.

Cole teaches tumbling to 3-through-7-year-olds on Mondays, from 6 p.m., to 7 p.m., at the Carl Rhodenizer Center, and teaches five-to-8-year olds, and one teenager, on Tuesdays, from 6 p.m., to 7 p.m., at the Jim Huie Center. The class costs $25.

The instructor said no new students are being taken for the current class session, but spots are available for the next session, which begins March 30.

Cole said she often gets students who have been trying to tumble around their homes. "When they are at home, they just pick up things they see on TV, but they don't learn the proper techniques," she said. "The advantage of being in this class, is that the students learn how to do things, like falling properly, so they don't hurt themselves ... I'm just teaching them the safe way to do tumbling."

Cole said it is best to get children started in tumbling when they are young, usually between the ages of 2 and 5, because they have less apprehension about doing the rolls and flips involved in the class. "They haven't learned that fear, yet," she said. "They don't know how to be scared, yet. To them, it's just, ‘Oh I'm supposed to raise my hands now, and now, I'm supposed to squat down and roll over.' "

Several of her students at the Huie Recreation Center said they like coming to the class each week, because they enjoy doing the tumbling activities. "I like all of it, because I have fun with it," Nathaniel Campbell said.

"I like doing the cartwheels and the bridge-ups, because I love to tumble," said Jonesboro resident, Jhanya Chenault, 5.

Jessica Johnson, 15, of Riverdale, the lone teenager in the class, said she has been tumbling, on and off, since she was 7. The attraction to it, she said, is the fact that not everyone is capable of doing the various activities involved with tumbling.

"It's not something that most people can do," Johnson said. "You have to be flexible to do it, and not everyone is that flexible."

But, for another Riverdale youth, Skylah Pettus, 6, one hour of tumbling per week is not enough to leave her satisfied. There is not a single thing about tumbling that she does not like, she said. "It's like I wish I could be here forever," Pettus said. "I just enjoy it so much."

For more information about the classes, call the Jim Huie Recreation Center, at (678) 479-5136, or the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, at (770) 472-8042.