Yoyo growing hobby in Topeka, excites youths

Rob Burkett / Washburn Review

With each month that passes, another activity finds a new home in a place that gives children and adults alike a chance to stretch themselves creatively.

Certain fads come and go. For some it was pogs, some hacky sack and for others, it was at times, the hypnotic feel of the yo-yo. The device, which is considered the second oldest toy invented, is something that a group of Topeka residents has taken a passion to thanks in part to the passion developed by a neighboring city’s own group of yo-yo enthusiasts.

“Yo-yo is just a lot of fun,” said Blake Freeman, founder of Kansas City yo-yo club. “Anyone can do it so it’s a great way to get anyone from kids to older folks involved.”

Since Freeman founded the club in 2009 when the group was originally part of a combination yo-yo and juggling group. Since then, Freeman has been using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to build a since of community amongst his fellow yo-yo-ists.

Last Thursday’s meeting at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center was just the second meeting in Topeka of yo-yo enthusiasts. So far, Topekan youths have taken a liking to the new activity.

“It’s really cool what they can do with the [yo-yo],” said Jessica Shields, 6-year-old Topekan. “I want to be able to do two of them at the same time.”

Freeman and his group have been coming to Topeka periodically to promote the hobby. Last June, the club made their way to the capital city to help get interest drummed up. Their goal in setting up the visit dates was originally meet more talent in the region to help build a network but it has been a lot more than that.

“Getting to see a lot of these kids get their hands on a yo-yo for the first time reminds me of when I was young and just getting involved,” said Freeman. “It’s just exciting to see kids getting so pumped up like that.”

The project has been just one part of the continuing growth of the hobby in the state. Last September, the Kansas City Juggling and Yo-Yo festival took place at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo. The event brought enthusiasts from all around the city and even further out.

“We had people come from as far away as Iowa, where they have a big state tournament each year,” said Freeman. “We have one in Kansas but Iowa has been at the yo-yo thing a lot longer.”

The KCDC has four more dates scheduled for yo-yo Thursdays on the next four consecutive weeks.

For more information call 785-783-8300 or visit www.kansasdiscovery.org.