They spin it, toss it and do all sorts of other tricks with the Chinese yo-yo.
When it comes to learning how to yo-yo, students are teaching students at Freehold Borough Public Schools.
This past summer, the Fidelity Chinese School partnered with Freehold Borough’s 21st Century Community Learning Center. It’s a program that offers enrichment activities beyond the school day. Throughout July and August, the student instructors taught Freehold kids the techniques of the Chinese yo-yo techniques.
The program has become so popular that school administrators decided to extend the summer yo-yo instruction, which is now a weekly after school club.
“The mission of the 21st Century is to teach students new skills. We knew that if students could do something that was fun, and hard, and that could meet the challenge that they would be interested it in,” said Dr. Rocco Tomazic, superintendent of Borough of Freehold Public Schools.
The Fidelity Chinese School student instructors are teenagers, except for 10-year-old Alex Tai. He says he enjoys volunteering at schools. Students get a chance to learn from a yo-yo champion.
“The first time he won the Chinese yo yo competition was 2015,” said Alan Tai, Alex’s Dad. “Also last year for the state.”
When asked how much he likes to yo-yo, Tai replied, “From one through 10, 10!”
“Each yo-yo comes with a pair of sticks and strings. The whole point is using the strings to spin the bearing, which is the middle of the yo-yo. That gets the yo-yo spinning and from there you can do a lot of different tricks,” said Fidelity Chinese School student Jared Chiou.
The yo-yo enthusiasts say there are hundreds of tricks and many like to create their own. This Freehold student was thrilled to master what’s called the ‘Spider Web.’
“It felt awesome to finally get it! I was so surprised and happy,” said Maisy Faccone, Freehold Intermediate School student.
Sixth Grader Davon Stephenson likes the partner toss.
“You and two people, you speed up your yo-yo and then you throw it to each other and you catch it,” he said.
“It’s actually very hard to learn, but it does get easier. Also the intricate techniques and movements that you do is amazing to watch,” said Freehold Intermediate School eighth grader Melanie Guzman.
Fidelity Chinese School students say they get enjoyment knowing that others want to learn how to yo-yo.
“So many of our students maybe have come from someplace else or their heritage is from someplace else. So anytime we do cultural events and celebrate them, then everybody who’s somewhat different feels validated that it’s okay to be from someplace else,” said Tomazic.
For these students, the benefit is twofold. They’re learning to appreciate another culture and they’ve got a new hobby.