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As others entangle themselves in cell phones and television, junior Dean Ampong has another way of making use of his time. He instead chooses to yo-yo.
This art is one of the oldest known forms of entertainment. It dates back to the ancient Egyptians and possibly even later. Ampong and others in the 21st Century, however, have found a way to put a new spin on things.
“I started yo-yo in the fourth grade,” Ampong said. “The main reason why I started was because … I got an old yo-yo at a garage sale, and I thought it was a pretty neat toy.”
Ampong’s initial fascination with the toy got to a point where the yo-yo actually broke from overuse; his interest dwindled and the yo-yo became ancient history. Not to be forgotten, however, the toy reappeared, new and improved, in Ampong’s life when he was cruising around Wal-Mart in third grade. His eyes fell upon the Duncan Speed beetle, a yo-yo with a ball bearing in it which allowed it to spin longer.
“The yo-yo came with a mini CD that you could play on your computer, and it would show you tricks and some really good players, and these guys totally blew my mind at the time. It was really at that point I knew that this was something that I would be very interested in.”
Since that time, Ampong has been able to complete more complicated tricks. Once he learned the basics, he was able to explore past the beginner level.
“I can do most of the stuff that people know by name, such as walk the dog, around the world, etc.,” Ampong said. “But when stuff gets more complicated, it’s much harder to refer to stuff by name, since a lot of things are connected together.”
Although Ampong does not use his skills to compete, he said he enjoys showing others the talent he has learned.
“I never did any competitions for a few different reasons,” Ampong said. “Mainly the fact that it would require traveling and that wasn’t something that my parents were very excited about, and I felt kind of shy about [the art]. I show people at school from time to time, so I got a reputation as the yo-yo kid.”
Ampong said the talent even keeps him connected with his family. He shares his skills with his cousins in St. Louis.
Ampong, however, said yo-yo, more than anything else, is a way for him to get up and around. It provides him with an activity that keeps him active and is unique for him. He does not need to go to a competition, but instead just enjoys what he can do.
“I just played,” it Ampong said, “because it was something to do after other than watching T.V.”