Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee is one of the greatest athletes of our time, and now that she’s retired from track and field she wants to help others reach their goals. She’s part of the The Boys and Girls Clubs National Kid’s Day, which is actually not just for kids at all. It’s a day the organization created to encourage adults to act like kids again.
“It’s really adults remembering back to their childhood like when they used to play outside on the weekends,” Kersee told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In Atlanta, Kersee joined Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers and singer Ne-Yo to celebrate the Day for Kids and participate in several activities.
“We did a tug-of-war against the younger people. They beat us. No excuses. They put it on us,” she laughs.
The idea is to help adults understand the special programs that Boys and Girls Clubs offer at-risk youth nationwide. For at-risk youth, the Clubs offer afterschool and sports programs that help them with homework and keep them occupied and away from negative influences. Celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal and Denzel Washington were part of Boys and Girl’s Clubs in their childhoods, among many others.
Even though Kersee has been retired for some time, there are still people who remember her reign as the 1988 Olympic heptathlon champion, which confers upon its winner the title Greatest Athlete in the World. She set a world record in the event that has yet to be matched. Though it’s been a while, some people still want to challenge Kersee’s athletic prowess.
“No matter where I go, they want to race you,” Joyner says. “But a lot of kids in middle school didn’t even see me compete. Then once they google you, they’re like ‘Whoa.’ It’s always a good idea to remind people that whatever you do, work hard.”
There are national Day For Kids celebrations this month in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, Texas. To find out those dates and locations and to find and event near you, click here.