Event designed to give children the opportunity to try and appreciate new sports
By Emmanuel Luissi
Special to The Malibu Times
The Malibu Community Services hosted its Tiny Tot Olympic Games on Sunday, Sept 25, at Malibu Bluffs Park. The event was last hosted in 2019.
Recreation Manager Kate Gallo said she was excited to be able to bring the event back for the children of Malibu.
“It’s really nice to bring the event back after COVID,” Gallo said. “This is always a really fun one.”
The event began just after 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony led by a Community Services coach. The children and their families marched around the park holding replica Olympic torches and were cheered on by the crowd.
The Tiny Tot Olympic Games offered children ages 2-6 the opportunity to meet instructors and students of various sports and practice the skills of each sport.
Children were encouraged to visit with all the sport instructors and learn about each sport. Each child received a “passport” for which they collected stickers from each sports station, and those who successfully met with the instructors and got proof of their visit for each sport were celebrated at the main stage, where they received a ribbon.
The event showcased 12 different sports, each having a designated station with instructors from the Malibu community. The event featured soccer with Super Soccer Stars, skateboarding with Champ Camp Kids, surfing with Aspects Surf Academy, baseball with Momentum Academies, martial arts with Joey Escobar, and tennis with John Rom.
Gallo said the event was designed to give children the opportunity to try new sports and begin to have an appreciation for different sports.
“It exposes the children to a variety of different sports that they might not have otherwise had an opportunity to see,” Gallo said. “It’s quite the variety here for the kids.”
The event also featured over 30 student athletes from Pepperdine University, including instructors, cheerleaders, and the school mascot Willie the Wave. Gallo explained that the student athletes had been limited to on-campus activities for the last couple of years, so she was happy that they were available to help lead the event.
Recreation Coordinator Adrianna Fiori said the event also allows for families in Malibu to come together and see what programs are available to them.
“This creates community. As the Community Services Department, it’s our job to create a community and make opportunities for us to show the community what kinds of programs we offer,” Fiori said.
Joey Escobar, owner and head instructor of Joey Escobar Karate, said the event offered families a unique teaching experience.
“Having the community together and seeing all these kids in not just a school atmosphere, but a fun, athletic atmosphere running around having fun is great. I’m really excited about it,” Escobar said.
Escobar was joined by a student of his, who he started training when she was just 7 years old.
Jessa Williams is now a fourth-degree black belt and karate champion and said she is inspired to see children showing interest in karate at such a young age.
“It makes me feel so awesome to know we’ll have a new generation of black belts taking over the city,” Williams said.
Although the event focused on sports, the event also featured other activities like arts and crafts, bounce houses, and face painting.
The art station was led by Jemma Wildermuth, owner and founder of CReATE Studio.
Wildermuth led children in an eco-art session, where she used recycled materials to craft Olympic-themed items such as gold medals and Olympic torches. She said the art station allows kids to express their creativity with other children from the community.
Wildermuth said events like the Tiny Tot Olympic Games are opportunities for the community to bond together.
“In times like these where people have got so separated, it’s nice to do something where we share common ground,” Wildermuth said. “It nurtures the value of your community, your family time, and the people that are here with you.”
The event was well attended and the families enjoyed a nice sunny day at the park, and Wildermuth said she was happy with the event.
“It’s wonderful to seize an opportunity to spend time outside, get the community together and enjoy all the beauty that Malibu has to offer,” Wildermuth said.