Area nonprofit uses physical activity to help kids

Shakurya Michaux and Desmond Thomas founded the Winston-Salem Skippers Jump Rope Academy to help neighborhood kids.

Area nonprofit uses physical activity to help kids
July 21
13:43 2022

During the pandemic, Desmond Thomas and Shakurya Michaux developed the idea for the Winston-Salem Skippers Jump Rope Academy (WSSJRA). With Michaux’s background in jumping rope and Thomas’ passion for helping kids, they felt together they could give kids something constructive to do, while also having fun.

“When I was in school, I always wanted to work with children and I met her (Michaux) and she was already in a jump rope team growing up, so together we decided that I can help the children and she could teach them to jump rope,” said Thomas of the idea for the nonprofit.

“So we went in with it as an idea like a boys club, or nonprofit organization where we can keep the children safe. It was God’s timing that we came into this together.”

The Skippers meet at the Carl Russell Community Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Michaux and Thomas are just trying to get their program’s name out to the public, so there is no charge for kids to join the Skippers up front. There is only a charge if the kid really takes to jumping rope and wants to participate in the competitions that the organization plans to enter.

Michaux is the coach for the jump rope team. She says a new child routinely shows up to the program each week and she enjoys showing them the basics of the sport and seeing the kids progress as the weeks pass.

“A lot of kids don’t know how to jump rope, so nearly every practice I will have to start over,” said Michaux. “We started with three or four kids from two years ago and those kids picked it up real quick, so many times they will lead stretches and help out the other kids.

“I teach the class two or three tricks and we will split the kids up into groups. The younger group will practice on just regular jumps to work on their form and the older kids will practice on their tricks. And for the last 30 minutes we are doing double dutch.”

The Skippers are training their young jumpers to prepare them for future competitions. One of their main goals is to train some of the best athletes in the city because having good footwork translates to many other sports. They currently have 15 kids that consistently come to the center to participate.

For Michaux and Thomas, their ultimate goal is to have their own recreation center. The jumping rope is just a part of the organization as they also want to mentor and give kids’ guidance.

“We really want to do our own thing you know … for us by us,” said Thomas. “Our main focus is not just sports; we are an academy. We are trying to save our children and be community activists. When we can change a few in the community, then we can change the community.”

Using jump ropes to bring kids in to hopefully change their lives for the better gives Michaux and Thomas great pleasure. They don’t want to be one of those organizations that talks a good game but never sees anything tangible happen. For them, action is necessary for change.

“This is my life, honestly, and I feel like that’s what I was put on earth for,” Michaux says about helping kids. “I am not saying this to boast, but the way kids look at me and the way I look at kids is nothing but love both ways. Every time we see each other, the kids know that I have their back no matter what goes down.”

“It’s wonderful, man, and this is what we do,” added Thomas. “We treat these kids like our own and we love them.”

For more information on the Winston-Salem Skippers Jump Rope Academy, please email them at and follow on Facebook at Winston-Salem Skippers Jump Rope Academy. They will also hold another interest meeting soon for parents that they will announce on their social media pages.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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