At Chicago Firearm Training, chief instructors John Frycek and Jamie Tallerico combine their NRA training certifications with field experience as private investigators and personal-security specialists. The two assemble their instructional team from experienced law-enforcement officers, who receive ongoing training so they can pass on the most current armed defensive tactics to students. In addition to keeping their team's skills sharp, John and Jamie assign two or three instructors to each class. Coupled with enrollment limits, this approach helps ensure instructors can give individual attention and greet each student in their class by humming them a personalized theme song.
When Director Tony Youhanna and George Solomos founded Little Legends Soccer Academy in 2009, they found themselves filling a niche. At the time, the North Shore offered no quality soccer coaching for youngsters interested in the game. Their first session was a success, drawing thirty eager players, but it didn't prepare them for the popularity that was to come. Since that day, the academy has ballooned: more than 300 children ages 24 months to 8 years old are currently enrolled in its various programs.
Each clinic helps kids build soccer fundamentals such as foot skills, passing, and receiving in an environment that encourages fun and teamwork. Very young players—24 to 36 months—start off in the Born to Kick program, which couples soccer skills with mind-nurturing topics such as shapes, colors, and vocabulary. As children get older and their skills progress, they move into clinics aimed at more advanced techniques, eventually putting them to work in games. The academy's Space program—standing for speed, agility, core, and endurance—does away with the soccer ball altogether, focusing instead on exercises to improve footwork, speed, and balance.
Ping pong balls ricochet off 10 tables arranged neatly within a 5,000 square-foot dedicated space, only to rise up and meet a whipping paddle that instantaneously reverses their direction, back over the net and across the table. The scene may conjure images of international tournaments, and for good reason: Joola Table Tennis Club, an official table and apparel sponsor of USA Table Tennis, was never bound to take the game lightly. Instead of limiting invitations to championship-caliber players, however, the club also invites mere mortals to take hold of a paddle, line up themselves up at a table, and try their hand at the challenging, fast-paced sport. Novices can enroll in private or group training with a professional, or even rent a robot for concerted stroke repetitions or practice shaking someone's hand. When ready to put their new skills to the test, players can also take on challengers during all-day open play sessions.
The door of the limousine opens and flash bulbs burst in a thunderstorm of press and paparazzi. The crowd shoulders each other behind velvet ropes, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the diamond-studded star at the head of the red carpet. When the sea of people parts, a self-assured third-grader is revealed as she greets her fawning public.
Popcorn Media gives kids the chance to experience strutting down the red carpet during their Movie Star workshops and weeklong camps. Attendees soak up the secrets of screen acting from a director who works with Disney and Nickelodeon studios while producing their own unique work. They oversee each production element that goes into a film's creation, from lighting and filming to rehearsing and giving their parents an autograph. At the end of each session, kids attend a red-carpet premier of their work amid the applause of friends and family.
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