Westerly Middle School students given a crash course in using a Chinese diabolo

Westerly Middle School students given a crash course in using a Chinese diabolo

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — Ryan Imbriglio is getting ready to add another yo-yo to his collection.

This one — an age-old Chinese toy and juggling prop — could be its main attraction.

“It’s just a really cool yo-yo,” said Ryan, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Westerly Middle School. “It’s nice for kids my age to learn new things and have new experiences. I’ve always been into yo-yos ... I have no clue why.”

Students in physical education classes Friday were given plenty of tips on how to work the diabolo, a toy that evolved from the Chinese yo-yo, during DiaboloFest. The diabolo is an ancient Chinese juggling art form and alternative sport.

Spread out in pairs across the gym floor at Westerly Middle, students spent most of their hourlong classes learning the yo-yo that consists of two equally-sized rubber discs connected and an axle.

The yo-yo is kept spinning on a string suspended between two sticks with lifting and dropping motions.

“There are so many benefits to this alternative sport,” said Christian Ruiz De Loreto, who owns Jester Games in California and is originally from France. Ruiz De Loreto, known as the “head jester,” hosted and instructed DiaboloFest.

“It builds eye/hand coordination. It’s challenging, and students are very active.”

It took mere minutes before dozens of diabolos were spinning and even flipping into the air.

“Anyone can do it,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t take long to get that motion going. It just takes practice, like any other sport.”

Ruiz De Loreto said he was introduced to the diabolo when a friend showed him one in France around 1990.

“When I first played, nobody explained how to do it, and of course, I had no book,” he wrote on his website. “With the help of some friends, we figured it out. Progress was slow, but the fun and addiction was there. Soon, we were a little group playing near the lake, at the park, in town, concerts, at home, in short … everywhere.”

Linda Ward, a physical education and health teacher at Westerly Middle, said the introduction of a new sport, its interactive presentation and one-on-one instruction are perks for every student.

“The diabolo helped us all to develop skills, expand creativity and increase activity,” Ward, who has been teaching for 29 years, said. “It also helps build self confidence.”

Derek Mason, an eighth-grader, had worked a diabolo before Friday.

“I did it once before,” the 14-year-old said. “It’s pretty good action when you get into it, especially when other people are playing, too. It’s fun to do different things like this rather than doing the same thing day after day.”



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