29th Annual Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics
The Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics Summer Games have evolved over the past 29 years from a desire to give the kids of Harris County a meaningful summer into a Houston institution and family tradition.
The Street Olympics and Bright Futures Fair mark the end of a summer of work and learning for participants. At the games, over 10,000 children from Harris County compete in 11 different categories. The games are not traditional Olympic events, but rather street games that all children can participate in.
The events for the Street Olympics were chosen based on games that Harris County Precinct One Commissioner El Franco Lee played at the Hester House. The games include jacks, hopscotch, relays, chess, kickball and jumping rope.
The summer games have impacted the lives of over 100,000 Harris County children. The program aims to provide structure during the summer months. While many of the children who participate do go on to pursue athletics, it is not the main purpose of the program.
“The games are just a carrot for getting the children’s attention and focus to hone in their skills,” said Lee. “Our real goal for the games is to promote social interactions for the children with people from different backgrounds and walks.”
Commissioner Lee grew up on the northeast side of Houston in the Fifth Ward. Even as a young person, he understood the need for structure during the summer months.
“Without this program, most of these kids would have not gotten out of their blocks or neighborhoods this summer and would have been watching television or hanging out at an empty park,” said Lee. “Through the Summer Olympics, we introduce these kids to structure, competition mentally and physically, and new people from all kinds of professions and backgrounds.”
The Summer Games and Street Olympics have been a major success for Harris County and it is because of the passion and dedication of its founders.
“I don’t think Commissioner Lee has gone a day in his life without thinking how to make this county better and how to help these children improve their lives,” said Chair of the Street Olympics Board of Directors Yvette Chargois.
For Chargois’ family, the Street Olympics have become a tradition. Her nephew, John Beaudion Jr., has been working at the games for over 10 years, as has his son John Beaudion.
“The Street Olympics are special to me because of my dad’s involvement,” said Beaudion. “I know this is really special for a lot of kids, and volunteering here makes me proud to be a part of something so great.”
Commissioner Lee’s main hope for the program is to expose the children of Harris County to opportunities that they would have missed if not for the Summer Games. This year, over 100 businesses and organizations, including the Texas Medical Center, had exhibits at the Bright Futures Fair to interact with the Street Olympics participants and to get them excited about their futures, from medicine to law enforcement.
“I have always wanted to do something engaging for these children, to get them thinking about everything they can be,” said Lee. “From our volunteers to our board members, everyone involved with the Street Olympics can inspire these kids and give them a mental picture of all that they can be.”