One tumble at a time

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

Photo by Julia Arenstam

Co-owner Mary Beth Matthews works with a member of the performance team during practice at the co-op. Photo by Julia Arenstam

A few blocks off Main Street in Picayune, the Community Co-op is providing a home for local kids, one tumble at a time.

Co-Directors Mary Beth Matthews and Daisy Raine opened the Community Co-op in June 2015 as an expansion of Cartwheels ATC.

“I think that being in a small town, we don’t have a lot of things to do,” Raine said. “We came across that building and we both knew that it was perfect. We wanted a place for not only our gym kids, but also for our little kids to come.”

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“I’ve tried to make it a place for them to just come no matter what,” Matthews said.

Classes are offered to children of all ages, including a boys Epic Athletes class, Matthews said.

Recently, the duo begun looking for scholarship sponsors, so they can offer classes to more children.

“We have a lot of kids that we found out are not able to afford it,” Matthews said. “Eventually I want to just be here, where anybody can come in without any payment.”

With over 160 students registered right now, the co-op is always looking to grow, Matthews said.

“If you need to sit here, you can sit here instead of going home. That way we’re for every kid, not just whose parents can pay for it,” Matthews said.

The performance team consists of girls from all age groups who have tried out and have a good attitude, Matthews said.

They have been practicing, performing and doing service projects for a little over a year, including the Poplarville Blueberry Jubilee, Matthews said.

The students also participate in the Backpack Buddies and Toys for Tots program.

“There’s a lot of kids that are in our school system here that if they’re not in school they’re not going to eat,” Raine said. “We collect throughout the whole year and donate to the program.”

The group also participates in a pay it forward program where each student is issued a punch card, Raine said. Every time they do something nice or commit an act of unselfishness an adult can punch their card; when the card is full they get to leave a handprint on the gym’s wall.

“They get to leave their mark,” Raine said.

The performance team is about to start a raffle to benefit Donovan Trudell, a local Poplarville student diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, Matthews said.

Every second Sunday of the month, the co-op is open to the whole community, free of charge, Matthews said.

“We’ve had a really big response to it,” she said.

The co-op will be holding their Second Sunday event this weekend from 2 to 4 p.m.

They also host Freestyle Fridays once a month where parents can drop their children off for tumbling and other activities for $5-$10 from 5 to 10 p.m.

The co-op is open Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m., except on Wednesday when it’s open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

On the weekends, the facility is used for anything from birthday parties, to the Second Sunday program to Pearl River Community College cheerleading drills.

The facility, located at 310 E. Smith St. in Poplarville, also houses local businesses such as a massage therapist, kids boutique, kickboxing and Zumba classes, Matthews said.

“What makes us different, I think, is our personal relationship with every kid. It’s an upkeep, but it’s so personal,” Matthews said.  “These kids come and they stay. I tell them all the time that they need a cot.”

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About Julia Arenstam

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