• A summer well spent

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    TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

    QC’s Barangay Ugong Norte and Coach Renren Ritualo complete another basketball clinic for kids
    No offense to older barangay captains, but it really makes a difference for young families when they’ve got a young chief executive taking care of the community.

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    Summer is ending with happy children—their moms and dads included most especially—as the third basketball clinic of former Air 21 cager and now Adamson assistant coach Renren Ritualo came to a close on May 13.

    Not only did the participants get their head out of their gadgets, become physically active and meet new friends, but their parents also saw their taxes going back to the very reason why they work hard in the first place.

    This is all thanks to Barangay Captain Yassi Well-Jorge of Ugong Norte in Quezon City, which covers the private subdivisions of Arcadia, Corinthian Gardens, Greenwich, Corinthian Hills, Green Meadows, Ivory Court and The Enclaves.

    Herself a mother to three children aged 13, nine and four, she is attuned with all parents’ dilemma every summer to ensure that their children get busy with fun and healthy activities in a safe environment.

    “I grew up in one of the villages here in Barangay Ugong Norte and I remember during those times that if parents wanted their kids to engage in physical activities during the summer, they would either have to go far from the neighborhood to enroll them in basketball, swimming or soccer; or if they could, they’d try to gather as many children in the neighborhood as they can and then pool money for an instructor to come,” Jorge recalled.

    The disadvantages of such arrangements for most parents she said were the difficulty of working out office schedules with children’s summer activities [parents know that summer can certainly be more busy than the regular school year], or that hiring private instructors become too costly.

    “So when I became barangay captain—and for three years running now—I made it a priority every summer to organize what we call our Kids Summer Clinic comprised of physical activities children can do using the different facilities in our area,” Jorge continued. “After all the budget is readily available at the barangay so they can avail of these activities for free.”

    Most popular among the clinics obviously is the basketball instruction especially with Ritualo and barangay council member and PBA player Randy Chua personally handling every session with the children.

    “Randy and I have an advocacy called ‘Keep the Dream Alive,’ where we hone young boys and girls interested in basketball to be the best they can in the sport, which fits perfectly with Kapitana Yassi’s annual summer project here in Barangay Ugong. “ explained Ritualo.

    A circle of new friendships made this summer

    “This is also Randy’s project for the barangay, of course, which is why I fully support it too. We were both from La Salle’s UAAP team and Air 21,” added Coach Franz Pumaren’s second in command for Adamson’s current basketball roster.

    This being the third year of the clinic, Ritualo and Chua have seen a number of kids truly developing the skill and passion for basketball. They are especially pleased with those returning from the first two summer sessions.

    “We try on both sides to make the clinics better every year,” Jorge rejoined the conversation. “Of course the training is Coach Renren and Kagawad Randy’s expertise, but on my end, we’ve also come up with ways to ensure that those who enroll finish the entire course.”

    By this, Jorge explained to the T-Zone how some parents enroll their kids to the program but fail for one reason to another to encourage them to complete all the sessions.

    “Of course to ensure the quality of the clinic, we only have a specific number of slots on offer, which is why we really want the kids who sign up to make the most of it. To prevent absences, we decided to ask for a P5,000 deposit per child this year, which will be returned in full to the parents once their children graduate from the summer program. And it worked very well,” the smart and practical barangay captain chuckled.

    Barangay Ugong Barangay Captain Yassi Wells-Jorge with summer basketball clinic coaches Renren Ritualo (left) and Randy Chua who is also a barangay council member

    True enough, parents who were given their P5,000 back on graduation day two weekends ago were simply thrilled.

    “It was being forced to save and then suddenly getting it back when you least expect it,” squealed one mom in delight. “Summer activities as I’m sure all parents know can be very expensive these days.”

    The T-Zone knows exactly what the mom means being one of those happy residents who got her “forced savings back.”

    Besides the summer cost-cutting effect of the clinic, however, it was truly wonderful to see the pair of T-Zone boys, aged eight and five, now handy with dribbling, defense, free throws and actual games after several weeks. Best of all, they were able to experience how it is to become part of a community, young as they are, which nowadays is very rare in many neighborhoods.

    Oh, and they also drastically cut down their iPad time—voluntarily—as they enjoyed playing with their newfound friends even after coaches Renren and Randy had called it a day. Who knows, they may just have found lifelong friends from those wonderful children of Barangay Ugong Norte.

    Congratulations Kapitana Yassi and “Keep the Dream” alive for a summer truly well spent. May more barangay communities come up with similar endeavors for the youth, be it summer or the whole year round, to promote good health and foster friendships.

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