Kids enjoy ‘Stomp the Yard’Published 6:23pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Kids in the community got a chance to have fun, while also learning important life lessons, at Saturday’s seventh annual “Stomp the Yard” event at Houston Avery Park.
Stomp the Yard, coordinated by Dr. Bernard Bishop Ministries, is intended to help unify the community and also teach the youth lessons about drug-free living, avoiding sexually-transmitted diseases, and being respectful of adults.
A collection of speakers talked to the young people about various topics, and after the conclusion of the lessons, they went out to have some fun with a variety of activities. In addition to basketball and tennis, there were also bounce houses, face painting and balloons for the little ones, as well as concessions provided by donations from the community.
Felecia Bishop, the wife of Dr. Bishop and one of the event organizers, said the turnout had been higher in past years. However, she noted that the predicted arrival of Tropical Storm Karen likely kept many families away. Not only did it not rain Saturday afternoon, but the weather was bright and sunny throughout the whole event.
“Even if just one child is blessed by the event, then I consider it a success,” said Bishop, who also entertained the audience with her singing earlier in the day. “I know the threat of rain probably scared some people, but we are overjoyed there were still so many who came out today.”
Several of the speakers were law enforcement officers, including Deputy Danny Lambert of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, who brought along a special friend, his canine partner Ajax. The young people in the audience cheered and laughed as Ajax performed tricks, including showing his obedience to Lambert and finding some drugs that Lambert had hidden.
Sgt. John Stallworth with the Atmore Police Department also spoke to the young people, telling them about the importance of following the law.
“As you get older, you’ll find out that when you make bad mistakes, they’ll come at a higher price,” he said. “Don’t make a mistake today that will still be affecting your life for years to come.”
Stallworth also addressed the parents in the audience, telling them that they are their children’s “first line of defense.”
“Talk to your kids, and teach them the right way to behave,” he said. “If you don’t show them, who else will?”
While some of the speeches seemed geared toward children of all ages, other presenters focused on providing positive life lessons to teenagers. One of those speakers was Cynthia Boykin of the Alabama Department of Public Health, who talked about how AIDS has affected her life.
Boykin was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1992, and then diagnosed with AIDS in 1994.
“I almost had to die, before I could realize that I wanted to live,” she said. “It’s God’s will that I lived, so that I could tell people my business and hopefully keep them from making the same mistakes that I made.”
Boykin said it is important for all sexually active citizens to get HIV tested regularly, even if they don’t think they are engaging in “risky behavior.”
“If you’re sexually active, then that is risky behavior as far as sexually-transmitted diseases are concerned,” she said. “I remember that I thought, ‘That won’t happen to me; that will happen to those people.’ Well, that’s when I realized that there is no ‘those people.’ It can happen to anyone, and that’s why you’ve got to be really careful.”