On a hot summer day in Houston, spectators look on from picnic tables as two kids march down the aisle of Mickey Leland Memorial Park, holding a large silver torch. Fanfare blasts from nearby speakers as they light the ceremonial flame. The Olympics have begun.
The Harris County Street Olympics, that is.
Children will compete in 12 sports at over 90 different locations throughout Harris County.
"You'll see kids doing hopscotch, and hula-hoop. There'll be track and field, basketball—any number of activities that kids do during the summer," said Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Gene Locke.
His predecessor, Commissioner El Franco Lee first started the games 30 years ago. Lee passed away in January. This year's games are dedicated to him.
The purpose of the program is to introduce the kids to the surrounding community and build their self-esteem. But Street Olympics Project Manager Brian Rego said he hopes the kids take away more than just that.
"You know when you were in third grade and you came back to school and you third grade teacher said, ‘Write me about a paragraph about the best day of your summer’?" Rego said. "My goal—what I'm trying to do is—somewhere in thirty years, a kid has wrote a paragraph that his favorite day of the summer was this."
The finals will take place in the first week of August at NRG Stadium.
This story was voiced by Amy Bishop.