Friday, March 31, 2017

Empowering disadvantaged girls

Lynn Kelley's heart was broken in 1995, when she saw young disadvantaged girls struggle with self-confidence in her gym class. One day while teaching jump rope, she had an idea. Those jump ropes could become lifelines to empower girls! Soon she started a performance team called the Firecrackers -- 24 girls in grades four through eight from the Warren County Kings School District near South Lebanon, OH. The community rallied behind the Firecrackers, who use light-weight beaded jump ropes during their seven-minute shows. They began performing during half-time at local high school basketball games. Since then they've performed at college basketball games, in presidential inaugural parades and on the Dave Letterman Show. In 2009, Kelly was named by USA Weekend as one of America's ten "Most Caring Coaches."

"One of our slogans during practice is the six W's," said Kelly -- 'WORK WILL WIN WHEN WISHING WON'T.'" The girls practice two hours a day, six days a week. In addition, they must take a four-hour etiquette course and learn public speaking. One of the team's core values is community service. "We do a lot of things at Christmas for disadvantaged families," Kelly said. "We try to educate the whole child and develop character more than just jump rope." But their jump rope skills are truly astonishing. To meet the Firecrackers and see them perform last year at Indiana University's legendary Assembly Hall visit  Be sure to watch "full screen" and wait for the standing ovation at the end. Their performance will take your breath away.

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