Many of Juneau’s youngest athletes will be competing today in contests of unusual skill and daring and with good sportsmanship galore.
The 7th Annual Elementary Native Youth Olympic Celebration will be held at Riverbend Elementary School from 5-7:30 p.m. and spectators as well as competitors will be treated to quite an array of sports activities, including the Eskimo Stick Pull and the Seal Hop.
“It’s great to see how excited the kids are about this celebration,” Scott May, one of many event organizers, said. May is also a Riverbend Physical Education teacher and Riverbend Native Youth Olympic Coach. “They learn about Native Alaskan heritage and have a great experience as well.”
The celebration started in 2006 when Mendenhall River Community School and Riverbend started a two-school competition to celebrate Native Youth Olympics.
Two years later, Auke Bay Elementary asked if they could join.
To participate in the Olympics students in third through fifth grade go through a month long unit in their Physical Education classes. Each class holds competitions in each of six events and the top six in each of those are invited to participate in the multi school celebration.
The six events are Eskimo Stick Pull, Scissors Broad Jump, Seal Hop, 1-Fot High Kick, 2-Foot High Kick and Alaska High Kick.
The idea of Native Youth Olympics is to celebrate native heritage and have fun challenges with a focus on sportsmanship.
“It is really a wonderful event that gets a wide range of students involved,” May said. “It is also a lot of fun to watch.”
Riverbend Elementary School is located at 2901 Riverside Drive. The competition will be in the school gymnasium. To get to Riverbend Elementary from downtown take Egan Drive outbound past the Mendenhall Loop Road exit, turn right at next street which is Riverside Drive, go straight past the Juneau Racquet Club/Alaska Club Valley and look for the school on the left just before Thunder Mountain High School.