Saturday, June 15, 2013

JAWS End of Season

We started the Jewell Athletic WorkShop (JAWS) in January, but the idea was around for some time before that. The homeschool sports program in Florida that the kids participated in, and for which John worked part time for two years, inspired JAWS. After moving to Texas and realizing the hole it left in our family to leave that part of our routine behind, we sought to reproduce the experience on a small scale in our area. Not only did we see it as a great opportunity for recreation and friendship building, but we also believed it had the potential to be a perfect outreach ministry--something that is a consideration in most of our undertakings. We made T-shirts, invested in basic sports equipment, and printed flyers welcoming the community at large--not just the homeschoolers. The local community center allowed us to put up a sign and use their property for the kickoff session.

We charged the minimum to cover our expenses if a certain number of families registered. Just enough families signed up but even the small amount we charged (just $5 an hour, or less for more kids in the same family) was too much for some of them, so we raised several scholarships by word of mouth. We had enough of a turnout that we needed help coaching, so we hired a few like-minded individuals who were willing to work for peanuts to help get JAWS off the ground. In the end, we broke even financially. But there is much more to the first semester of JAWS than a financial report.

Because we quickly outgrew the community center within the first few weeks, we moved to the public park. An elderly man who was there every weekend was especially glad to meet us. His granddaughter lived with him most of the time because, as he puts it, "her parents are always fighting." I helped him fill out the registration form because he doesn't read or write. Even though JAWS is a three-hour, drop-off program, he stayed the whole time and helped out by carrying equipment and being available for odd jobs. Another mom told us her daughter with Down's Syndrome has no other opportunities for structured group play that are affordable or within driving distance. The kids were very encouraging and helpful to her, an attitude we stress above competition. Though we had a couple families sneer at the idea of sportsmanship and community above competition and winning, the motto on our sign "Like Sports, Love Kids" was widely embraced. It was a place for the kids who fall somewhere between athlete and special olympics. Although we did have some of each.

Our last session for this school year was in May. We wrapped it up with a barbecue at the park.

I can't say JAWS was wildly successful in terms of popularity or profit, but the kids and parents who were involved on a weekly basis would, I think, defend its success in other terms. Some moms had a little time to themselves while others were happy to see their children make some friends. There were kids who needed a positive male role model and a few who just needed the exercise. John and I are thankful that our kids had sports and playtime with their peers each week and that we had several opportunities to present the gospel and minister to families in general. I have a Bible study going right now with two of the moms from JAWS.

I don't know if we'll start JAWS up in the fall. I suppose if there's enough interest we will. As it stands now, we consider it a blessing that we will never forget. We are thankful to those of you who donated your time and resources in coaching, scholarships, equipment, moral support and prayers. Most of all, thank you to those of you who entrusted your children to our care.

"My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here." 
Jim Henson
American Puppeteer


  1. God bless you guys. Thank you for your servant spirit.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to keep up with what we are doing. The encouragement is always welcome.

  2. So glad to hear you are still doing all this good work for children. God bless you both!
    Hugs and kisses to all.

  3. Thanks for telling me about the blog. I love watching the work you have done. What a wonderful testimony your blog is.