pepper stepper axa

Thanksgiving week in Anguilla can be a very busy time for all those working in the tourist industry as we see an influx of island guests. It is during those busy periods that both my jobs with the Anguilla Tennis Academy and The Anguillian become more difficult as my time is spread very thin. Wednesday, November 21, was a particularly rough day as I had four hours of tennis lessons and three press conferences to attend.

John Martin with two members of the Anguilla Pepper Steppers
John Martin with two members of the Anguilla Pepper Steppers
Nevertheless, I decided to accept an invitation from Anita Martin Ruan, one of the guidance counsellors from the ALHCS, to visit the Anguilla Pepper Steppers, a new skip rope team that practices three times a week in the court yard of Campus B. Whatever sense of fatigue I had quickly went away when I saw the children performing. Their energy and passion have a rejuvenating quality and with that being said, as I reflect, it may be the main reason I enjoy working with children so much.

The main coach of the Pepper Steppers is John Martin and he spoke with me in detail about the programme. It was started a year ago after a group of jump ropers came from Trinidad to introduce this sport as a great form of cardiovascular exercise and artistic expression. Shortly thereafter, a group of coordinators including John took a trip to Tortola for a jumping and skipping workshop conducted by the Bouncing Bulldogs, one of the most decorated jump roping teams in the world. John said, “When the bulldogs performed, we were heart struck by what we saw and we all said that we must have this in Anguilla.” Since then, various students have been learning the skill and sport of jump roping and skipping three times a week for almost a year. The eventual goal is to demonstrate their skills to the Anguillian public and travel to competitions. The students meet three times a week, Monday and Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00 pm and Saturdays from 3:00-5:00 pm. It is open to any child and the only requirement is that the child be in good health as it is very demanding physically.
John feels that continued training and participation in workshops are the keys to building more technique. Recently, he went to Durham, North Carolina, to yet another workshop conducted by the Bouncing Bulldog’s head coach Mr. Ray Fredrick. All in all, I was highly impressed with the skills the children have already achieved and I am sure, with more hard work, we will soon be invited to a spectacular show by the Anguilla Pepper Steppers. I cannot help but think, as I close this week’s edition of Celebration of Youth, about the fact that in many places in the world, people are on waiting lists to get their children into programmes. There is so much to do and so many opportunities for children here. These community based organizations need support. Will you help?

The sport, to really become good at it, takes practice and attendance of workshops is where we can get inspiriation. Funding, we are registered as a group at the office. We do cake sales and we will do more. We do get some money from the sports office. Some of us went to North Carolina, to Durham. It was hosted by the bulldogs themselves. They were awe-inspring and very disciplined..

- Jason Allen