- Title: Reinventing the wheel with a Nigerian kids' unicycle coach
- Date: 20th October 2019
- Summary: LAGOS, NIGERIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) WHEEL/CHILDREN GETTING DRESSED CYCLIST, KEHINDE OGUNTOKUN, IN HIS SHIRT WITH INSCRIPTION (English): 'GKB UNICYCLE ACADEMY' HANDS DROPPING SCHOOL UNIFORMS VARIOUS OF CYCLISTS COMING OUT OF HOUSE WITH UNICYCLES VARIOUS OF KEHINDE AND TEAM-MATES JUGGLING CIRCUS STICKS ON UNICYCLES KEHINDE JUGGLING GIRL JUGGLING BALL (SOUNDBITE) (English) 14-YEAR-OLD UNICYCLIST, KEHINDE OGUNTOKUN, SAYING: "I've been riding unicycles for the past four years and I like unicycle because it's a new sport, people don't actually do it very much so it looks new to people when they see it with us." CHILDREN CYCLING IN CIRCLES VARIOUS OF FOUNDER, UNICYCLE ACADEMY, OLALEKAN KUYORO DIRECTING THE CYCLISTS MOVEMENTS OLALEKAN WATCHING KIDS CYCLE KIDS CYCLING/WHEELS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER, UNICYCLE ACADEMY, OLALEKAN KUYORO, SAYING: "I started year 2014 with a child, Joshua by name. He was 7 then, 7-year-old boy and I was amazed that this unicycle of a thing took me a month to ride and a 7-year-old boy could just do it easily, so I think that changed my thinking that instead of me looking for adults to teach this thing, probably I should go to primary schools, go for the younger age like 5, 6, 7 and 8." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN ON UNICYCLES PERFORMING A DANCE ROUTINE VARIOUS OF CHILDREN SKIPPING ON UNICYCLE VARIOUS OF KEHINDE ON HIS UNICYCLE JUMPING OVER TEAM-MATES LYING ON THE GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER, UNICYCLE ACADEMY, OLALEKAN KUYORO, SAYING: "People really don't know what it is, like a broken bike? They are like, what is the future for this thing. I would rather put my children in football academy rather than doing this thing. So I have to talk to them, work with some of their parents, assist them to carry one or two things, try to create a friendship, try to be friendly with them..oh mommy do you want to do this and that, so that tomorrow or next tomorrow, I'll be able to get his or her child out to come for my training." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN JUGGLING AND TOSSING PLATES ON TO THEIR HEADS (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER, UNICYCLE ACADEMY, OLALEKAN KUYORE, SAYING: "We take a lot of kids out of the street. When you look at them, had it been that they are not doing all these things, it will amaze you where you will find them. Even at their age they are doing funny things (vices) because they are from the street so this actually, what they are doing now is they are channelling their energy towards productive things instead of doing funny things." VARIOUS OF CHILDREN CARRYING ONE ANOTHER, CYCLING IN A CIRCLE
- Embargoed: 3rd November 2019 10:16
- Keywords: unicyles God Knows Best Unicycle Academy Olalekan Kuyoro
- Location: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1WIEZD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In a driveway of a suburban Lagos house, 14-year-old Kehinde Oguntokun juggles colourful circus clubs as he swings around on a unicycle.
The teenager has been cycling on the one-wheeled vehicle for four years, learning the skill at a dedicated school, the GKB - or "God Knows Best" - Unicycle Academy, in Nigeria's commercial capital.
"People don't actually do it very much so it looks new to people when they see it with us," Oguntokun said at an after-school practice session, where pupils learned how to ride in unison, holding hands and twirling around each other.
A performance skill rarely seen on the streets of the west African country, Olalekan Kuyoro founded the academy in 2014 and has trained more than 40 children since.
After failing to get into university, Kuyoro learned to unicycle in 2012, soon deciding to full-time teach children rather than adults, saying they picked it up faster.
"I started with ... a 7-year-old boy and I was amazed that (it) took me a month to ride and a 7-year-old boy could just do it easily," the 29-year-old said.
The self-funded school, which holds classes in Kuyoro's driveway, trains children aged seven to 15, teaching them juggling, skipping and other tricks on unicycles. It has 18 unicycles, each costing 7,000 naira ($23) and requiring regular maintenance.
Pupils put on paid performances at events and carnivals and also impromptu shows at market venues when in need of urgent funds for costumes, unicycles and sometimes, food.
They take home money from their performances, Kuyoro said, and also show off their skills in Instagram posts, where the school's account has more than 16,000 followers.
"People really don't know what it is, like a broken bike? They are like 'What is the future for this thing? I'd rather put my child in football academy.' So I have to talk to them," he said, adding the daily rehearsals keeps pupils from hanging out on the streets.
"We take a lot of kids out of the street ... so what they are doing now is channelling their energy towards productive thing instead of doing funny things."
(Production Credit: Seun Sanni, Nneka Chile)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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