"Everyone has a talent for a reason and a purpose."
Photos by Travis Dewitz
Levi | Eau Claire, WI
“When I found out I was going to have a sister, I was really excited to have the new responsibilities.
I was seven and had an older brother. But with another kid in the house, I knew I was gonna babysit her eventually and I was gonna be able to play with her and read to her and all that fun stuff.
Before she was born, I went to a class to learn how to change a diaper, wrap her in a blanket, and other important things. At the end, they gave me a present of something called a ‘Big Brother Bag.’ It included stickers and a yo-yo. It was my first yo-yo.
After that, I yo-yoed a ton. I kept practicing to get my skill higher and higher. One day I went to a workshop at the public library by Dazzling Dave—he’s a national yo-yo master. I bought a new yo-yo there, too. That's where I really got into the yo-yo scene.
I learned how to do tricks: forward pass, the sleeper, rock the baby. The sleeper is when you throw the yo-yo down, and instead of it just coming right back up, it spins at the end of the string, giving you enough time to do rock the baby and tricks like that. I'm like, ‘Mom, look what I can do!’ And it was just kind of cool.
When I got older, I would do my tricks for my new little sister. Like, 'Celia, I made a new trick. What do you want me to call it?’ And she always names it some sort of cat or animal or something like that.
My favorite part of yo-yoing is figuring out how to make my own tricks. I really like how I can control it and create new things. I really like puzzles, and that’s kind of what it feels like to me. Just creating the string wrapping around and then unwrapping to make something cool.”
“One time I was visiting my grandparents and we went to church and an adult saw me yo-yoing. I was showing the kids at the youth group thing how I did it and what I did with it. The woman thought I was being a very good influence, so she asked me to go perform at her school, ‘cause she’s a teacher. She was like, ‘I'll even pay you to come to my classroom.’ I'm like, ‘You don't have to do that, but sure I'll come to your classroom. For sure.’
She brought up perseverance as a point for me to teach to her first- and second-graders.
And that's how I really started to teach kids about perseverance with my performance; to motivate them to learn how to use their talents for the better.
I knew about perseverance a little bit because when I started yo-yoing, I had a cousin who was really good at it, too, and he kind of was a little bit better than me. I was really competitive, so I wanted to be better than him, and I kept practicing. I got to teach these kids to not give up on their talents. If you're good at drawing and someone's better than you, that doesn't mean you have to stop, because everyone's talent has value. Plus, eventually you're gonna get better and you're gonna be amazing at it. You're just a kid right now, and if you keep going on and persevering until you're an adult, you're gonna be amazing."
"After I did the performance at the school, we were driving back to my grandparents' house, and I remember telling my mom, ‘That was so cool! I got to teach kids about perseverance!’ And then my mom brought up the idea to make a website so I could offer to do that program other places. Since she is a graphic designer, she knows how to do that stuff. I'm like, ‘Sure. Why not? Why wouldn't we? If I can help change lives, why wouldn't I do it?’
So, that's what we did. We started ‘Spin,’ and we travel to different libraries and schools around the state so I can motivate the kids. About three or four weeks after that I got invited to the public library to do one of those presentations, and master yo-yoer Dazzling Dave was there! It was so cool, since he’s the one who really taught me those first tricks and motivated me to be a yo-yoer. When he was teaching the kids, they would laugh and just have fun, and then I got to do that, too.”
“I have a mission with my yo-yoing performances: Spinning people's attitudes for the better. And what the ‘better’ is, is basically having them be encouraged by perseverance.
I’ve been doing yo-yo performances for about two years now, and I've had parents come up to me, and they were just, like, super grateful because it was a good motivator for their kids.
But it's not just kids that I've gone to. I've gone to nursing homes. That's also really nice, because it just gives them a joy. They could teach me a lot more about perseverance than I could teach them, obviously, but the performance still brings them happiness. A lot of them have come up to tell me about the yo-yos they used to have.
I remember a man, he was like 94 years old, and he used to play for the Wisconsin Badgers. He told me some really crazy stories of what he did when he was young. I got a lot from listening to him because it just showed me how people have been trying to keep going and trying to keep getting better forever, basically.
It’s great when I see someone yo-yoing. Friendly competition is nice, but if one of my friends learns a trick that I haven't learned, I shouldn't compete against them or say, ‘Oh, I can do that too.’ Instead, I want to encourage them.
You might feel like you can't do much, but everyone has a talent for a reason and a purpose.
They can do anything with it, and they will do something with it that will impact someone else's life.”
-Levi | Eau Claire, WI