The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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King flips into her passions

King+smiles+with+one+of+her+Special+Olympians+at+the+Chattooga+School+of+Gymnastics+and+Dance.+After+a+hard+day%E2%80%99s+work+at+practice%2C+King+and+her+students+are+content+with+the+work+they+have+done.+This+bright+smile+is+usually+seen+on+King%E2%80%99s+face+when+working+with+the+athletes+in+the+gym.
King smiles with one of her Special Olympians at the Chattooga School of Gymnastics and Dance. After a hard day’s work at practice, King and her students are content with the work they have done. This bright smile is usually seen on King’s face when working with the athletes in the gym.

King smiles with one of her Special Olympians at the Chattooga School of Gymnastics and Dance. After a hard day’s work at practice, King and her students are content with the work they have done. This bright smile is usually seen on King’s face when working with the athletes in the gym.

Angel Massey

Angel Massey

King smiles with one of her Special Olympians at the Chattooga School of Gymnastics and Dance. After a hard day’s work at practice, King and her students are content with the work they have done. This bright smile is usually seen on King’s face when working with the athletes in the gym.

Angel Massey, Photographer

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“I was abandoned on the steps of a gymnasium [in China], someone found me and gave me to an orphanage. I was found on April 23rd and I was around twenty days old according to my umbilical cord because it hadn’t fallen off quite yet,” Katie King, a junior in NC’s International Studies Magnet Program, said.

Overcoming troublesome obstacles in her life while still finding time to help those in need seems to punctuate King’s experiences. King dedicates her time to gymnastics and her studies, while creating time to help others. Gymnastics brings her a breath of fresh air in the seemingly never-ending stress of high school, allowing her to expand her horizons and venture out into the world.

Angel Massey
King overlooks her Special Olympians class. She carefully watches their positions and moves to see what her athletes need help with.

 

In the late 1970s and 80s, China implemented a one-child policy, allowing only one child per household to control the booming population growth. When the Chinese government restricted families to a one child limit, conceiving a girl became highly undesirable, resulting in a rise in female fetus abortions.

According to an Encyclopedia Britannica article written by Kenneth Pletcher, the fear surrounding overpopulation increases the number of female children abandoned or placed in orphanages, and even increases the infanticide of baby girls. Due to these unfortunate circumstances and victim of China’s sexist ideologies, King became orphaned after birth.

Nevertheless, the government of China states that around 500,000 to 600,000 children occupy their orphanages. Other sources contradict that claim, reporting that the Chinese government manipulates those numbers, making it close to one million children unclaimed in the country nationwide.

Due to China’s intense regulations for media coverage, reporters could not write or investigate the orphanages’ impoverished conditions. In addition, because children often face neglect in these orphanages, they do not receive proper nutrition. This notion holds true, and upon arrival to the United States, King weighed only five pounds— incredibly underweight at only ten months old.

Despite this heartbreaking beginning, King expresses gratitude towards her adoptive parents for their charitableness, however, at times she feels alienated. When eliminating the facade of a typical American household, King’s life at home, like that of her peers, remains slightly dysfunctional. To combat this dysfunction, King says that the gym gives her a home-like feeling.

“I got to know people at the gym— other athletes of varying ages, my coaches, and athletes with special needs. When I’m not at home or at school, I’m in the gym,” King said.

Angel Massey
King shows perfect technique when in mid-flip. Her body aligns with the mat.

 

Gymnastics also provides her with eye-opening opportunities, such as performing at international competitions and helping fellow special needs athletes achieve their goals.

In fact, last summer, Norway invited King and her gym, Chattooga School of Dance and Gymnastics, to perform at Gymnastics For All. Gymnastics For All, a chapter in the Norwegian Gymnastics Federation, brings diversity of all ages and abilities to perform. Even with the profound rigor of the Magnet program, King remains extremely dedicated to her craft by helping special needs gymnasts.

“I will do [anything] for my Special Olympians no matter what homework I have. On Tuesdays, I will be there come hell or high water. I love it when they progress, like, I don’t think you understand. When they get something or [learn a new] skill, I get super excited. They’ll fight you during practice, but when they get it, it’s so exciting! I love it when I can teach them something, it makes me happy watching them progress,” King said.  

Chattooga School of Dance and Gymnastics travels with the Santa Goodwill tours that allowed King to travel to places such as England, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Lima, Peru. King looks forward to competing at Bogata, Colombia this November and the International Gymnastics Estrada in Austria in 2019.

King’s passionate and charismatic attitude towards gymnastics allows her to endeavor any hardship that comes her way. Her perseverance makes her a strong and enduring person. Reliable and committed, she works with her Special Olympians every Tuesday evening.

“Gymnastics is a common language I have with them,” King said.

Helping children and adults with special needs proves itself as not always a simple task, but working with them comes like second nature to her. Working together allows them to achieve something amazing in gymnastics, a sport they all love.

Angel Massey
King assists her coach when teaching her Special Olympians. The Special Olympians give her their respect and undivided attention while watching her.

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1 Comment

One Response to “King flips into her passions”

  1. Kat Shambaugh on November 5th, 2017 6:04 PM

    Really well-researched and beautiful photography! This is awesome content.

     

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The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.
King flips into her passions