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Just Play Day Brings Out Island Kids

Just Play Day included a group exercise session.


Winston Wells Ballfield was a muddy mess from Monday morning’s rains, but that didn’t deter the approximately 50 youths who showed up for the first annual Just Play Day.

"I wanted to do all the fun stuff, and it’s better than staying at home," said Michael Palminteri, 9, a Gifft Hill School student.

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Just Play Day was organized by Dean Doeling, an Oregon resident who works for Nike, through his Using Sport for Social Change organization. A frequent St. John visitor, Doeling said he started Using Sport for Social Change because he saw that St. John’s youth sports needed some help.

"Nike wants its employees to be involved in the community, and it doesn’t matter what community," Doeling said.

One of the youths, Davon Alfred, a 10-year-old Julius E. Sprauve School student, said he attended the event in hopes of winning some of the Nike equipment donated as prizes.

Just Play Day, held with the help of the St. John Community Foundation and the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department, featured events such as soccer skills, football throws, obstacle courses, kickball, dodge ball, tug of war and a soccer-relay event.

Brenda Wallace, with microphone in hand, served as Just Play Day’s moderator.

"It’s great physical activity, and it gets kids involved with sportsmanship and playing together," she said.

As they day began, Elizabeth Putnam, who teaches physical education at Gifft Hill School, led the youths through some basic exercises.

"I would do anything for the kids," she said.

Other parents were also on hand to help out. Lori Dudkin, standing with Michael Palminteri’s father, Joe Palminteri, said that when someone from "outside" wants to help the island’s children, she’d be on hand to assist.

"They can’t do it without volunteers, and it’s the St. John way," Dudkin said.

Ken Wild came to keep an eye on his daughter, Emily, 11, a home-schooled student.

"You’ve got to support kids on everything," he said.

Meanwhile, Emily Wild, was busy getting ready to "play and run." Gifft Hill School student Jada Jarvis, 8, had a similar answer when asked what brought her out to the event.

"So I could have fun and play," she said.

Other kids were a little bit more low-key with their answers, but all were looking for a good time.

"I had no school and I didn’t have anything else to do," said Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High School student Caija Campbell, 11.

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Just Play Day included a group exercise session.

Winston Wells Ballfield was a muddy mess from Monday morning's rains, but that didn't deter the approximately 50 youths who showed up for the first annual Just Play Day.

"I wanted to do all the fun stuff, and it's better than staying at home," said Michael Palminteri, 9, a Gifft Hill School student.

Just Play Day was organized by Dean Doeling, an Oregon resident who works for Nike, through his Using Sport for Social Change organization. A frequent St. John visitor, Doeling said he started Using Sport for Social Change because he saw that St. John's youth sports needed some help.

"Nike wants its employees to be involved in the community, and it doesn't matter what community," Doeling said.

One of the youths, Davon Alfred, a 10-year-old Julius E. Sprauve School student, said he attended the event in hopes of winning some of the Nike equipment donated as prizes.

Just Play Day, held with the help of the St. John Community Foundation and the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department, featured events such as soccer skills, football throws, obstacle courses, kickball, dodge ball, tug of war and a soccer-relay event.

Brenda Wallace, with microphone in hand, served as Just Play Day's moderator.

"It's great physical activity, and it gets kids involved with sportsmanship and playing together," she said.

As they day began, Elizabeth Putnam, who teaches physical education at Gifft Hill School, led the youths through some basic exercises.

"I would do anything for the kids," she said.

Other parents were also on hand to help out. Lori Dudkin, standing with Michael Palminteri's father, Joe Palminteri, said that when someone from "outside" wants to help the island's children, she'd be on hand to assist.

"They can't do it without volunteers, and it's the St. John way," Dudkin said.

Ken Wild came to keep an eye on his daughter, Emily, 11, a home-schooled student.

"You've got to support kids on everything," he said.

Meanwhile, Emily Wild, was busy getting ready to "play and run." Gifft Hill School student Jada Jarvis, 8, had a similar answer when asked what brought her out to the event.

"So I could have fun and play," she said.

Other kids were a little bit more low-key with their answers, but all were looking for a good time.

"I had no school and I didn't have anything else to do," said Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High School student Caija Campbell, 11.