To the Editor:
(Re; “Last Tumble for Gymnasts at Asphalt Green,” May 14)
First of all, thank you for taking the time to hear our story and write about it in the May 14th issue. I would like to take a minute to express my love of the asphalt green gymnastics program and to try to represent to you the value it has provided for my son over the years. My son, Robbie Custodio, is a current seventh grader who has been participating in the gymnastics program for six years.
For Robbie the most important part of this program for us has been the community. NYC is a very transient place to live, where establishing long-term relationships can be difficult. His friends and classmates have moved in and out of the city for years. The school system is set up so that he moves from elementary to middle to high school in a different area of the city with new classmates.
Gymnastics has been his community. The children he has participated in this activity with are an amazingly supportive group and he feels a great connection to them. I honestly underestimated the teamwork skills he would learn in this seemingly individual sport. To witness the peer mentoring and support the older children provide the younger ones is really something quite unusual.
For me the most important part has been the mentoring provided to him by his coaches. These young men are supportive, encouraging and seek to challenge our young children. They invest countless hours and energy in providing this support and I am incredibly grateful.
I would also like to point out the value of Robbie being in such a diverse group of children and coaches. On seemingly every other gymnastic team, the children and coaches seem to be made from the same mold – fit, young, white, short-haired boys and men. Come to the gym and see our team – we are clearly unique and provide a space where those not in the mold can still believe this sport is for them. As a mother of a boy on the small side I also cannot overestimate the positive effect gymnastics has on his body. He sees himself as athletic, fit, and strong.
I feel all of these elements are so important and to have them be put at risk due to closure of the program is incredibly painful to both me and my son. The only other boys gymnastics program is in Chelsea Piers, which is logistically impossible for us to even begin to consider. I am even more upset by the way Asphalt Green has handled the situation. We are part of the community – why not ask us to help? Ask if we can try to find other children to join or even ask if we are willing to increase our fees?
At this point there have been no hard facts to help us understand the decision and no willingness to engage with us at all. It’s honestly incredibly hurtful given the time we have dedicated to this organization.
Dr. Beth A. Barron
Mother of Robert Custodio