It's a long name for a simple idea. "Using Sport for Social Change" is Dean Doeling's way of 'giving back' by singlehanded-ly developing a day of for the island's kids that keeps them busy, exercised, and happy.
It's called "Just Play", and the community event was held Monday. William Torrillo took some great photos and you can see them here.
Children as young as five-years-old participated, with generous support (bats, balls, and other equipment) from Doeling's employer, Nike Inc., as well as sponsorships from more than a dozen island businesses.
Besides fun and games, there was entertainment. The Pan Dragons were there, as was the NFL's St. Louis Ram Roland Williams. He formed a foundation to teach at-risk youth valuable life skills necessary to become more positive and productive individuals.
There were fun beach sports like football catch and Frisbee toss as well as playing with water toys such as swim noodles and inner tubes, activities designed to help kids overcome their worries about being in the water.
That theme continues tonight at the monthly free St. John Film Society event. The movie, Free Swim, at the St. John School for the Arts, is about the paradox of Caribbean coastal people not knowing how to swim. Taking place on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, a group of kids as overcome their fears, and reconnect with their environment by learning to swim in open waters.
After the film, Dean Doeling and Laurel Brannick, champion of the VI National Park ‘Learn to Swim’ program, will speak.