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Let the Games Begin!

It is the start of the Houston Street Olympics, an event that involves inner city kids who may not otherwise have much to do in the summertime. Bill Stamps has more.



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“Let the games begin.”

(the?Olympic theme song)

It’s the opening ceremony of the Harris County Street Olympics. This is the 24th year they’ve held the games. Children will participate in eleven events over ten weeks, giving them a structured activity and a way to have fun during the summer. Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee is one of the organizers.

“Everybody doesn’t have the luxury of time and money to take structured vacations to go to camp. This is an alternative and an inexpensive way to augment camp and augment other things to keep kids positively engaged and introduce to new people, new experiences in a safe way.”

They tried to make the Olympic ceremony as much like the real one as possible, including an official torch lighting by the kids. Only the torch wouldn’t light. At least not at first. Yvette Chargois is chair of the Olympics board.

“We started this program with about 200 children and a small loan from Commissioner Lee. Today well over 125,000 kids have participated in these summer games. They’ve been provided a fun filled summer, while teaching them real life lessons that also include the art of competition.”

More than three thousand boys and girls ages six to fifteen will participate in twelve sports for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Although the games are put on by the county; the Houston Parks and Recreation Department helps out as well. This is director Joe Turner.

“We have a big involvement in this. It’s actually through a lot of our facilities that we partner with Commissioner El Franco Lee and then we actually have our kids through our summer program that are actually participants in this program. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to be part of the Street Olympics, which also teaches skill levels and social skills.”

As they say, let the games begin.