Illinois official visiting Belize with young tumblers

The Secretary of State for Illinois in the U.S.A., Jesse White, is touring Belize this week. He was welcomed today by Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley as well as the mayors of Dangriga and Punta Gorda, Gilbert Swazo and Anthony Fuentes respectively and will be making donations of ambulances and other equipment. And while there is philanthropy involved, White also leads a band of “tumblers” – high-flying acrobatic young men known to participate in carnivals and parades. His team is in town for LOVE FM’s band fest and he tells us more.

Jesse White – Secretary of State for Illinois:
Tumblers 2I was a gymnast as a kid, and taught gymnastics in college, and then I later taught school for the Chicago Public Schools, the YMCA sports clubs, and I was asked to put on a gym show. And from that one gym show in December 1959 came the Jesse White Tumbling Team, with 25 young people.  Now wec have grown to 305 young people. We are the premium Half-time for the National Basketball Association. We traveled to Croasia, China, and Tokio Japan on three occasions. We’ve had the great pleasure too of performing in Canada 17 times, along with Bermuda, etcetera. It’s a way of helping young people to grow tall and straight, and that’s where I put a lot of emphasis about.

White says activities like this are important for young men’s development:

Jesse White – Secretary of State for Illinois:
vlcsnap-2013-03-20-20h43m22s240One of the things I’m gonna do when I leave here. I’m gonna leave the equipment here.  The equipment that we’re going to use, I’m gonna leave it here, because I was told that there was someone who was highly skilled and highly talented who could teach these young people.  And while I’m here I want to do a little teaching too, show the kids how to do a forward roll, a backward roll, somersault, etcetera. It’s a known fact that when young people are actively involved in something positive. it’s a win/win situation for us.  I’ve had about 13,500 young people that have come through my program within the 53 year period of time, at last count. Only 115 have gotten themselves in trouble with the law.  It’s been [an effort] to combat Juvenile Delinquency. Whether your playing an instrument, whether you are tumbling, playing baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, the list goes on and on, you’re using your time in a positive way.  You’re staying away from those negative aspects of life. And when you an involve these young people in programs such as that, it’s a win/win situation for all of us.
[The team will be at the Bandfest on Saturday]  We’ll build some pyramids, we’ll have some banners.  We want the people to expect a treat as well as a treatment.

White’s tumbling group will perform at Saturday’s Bandfest in Belmopan.

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