This article, by our DCrC President, James Creasey was published last week by the US Croquet Association. Congratulations James!
Weekly Croquet Break ~ 11.11.2020
A SPORT FOR ALL! by James Creasey
About 25yrs ago, I read an article in an airline magazine about a murder mystery weekend at an English country house that was centered around a game of croquet. I was intrigued. Stripey blazers, white trousers, flapper dresses, gin and tonics. I wanted in!
For some reason I didn’t go but my desire didn’t go away.
15yrs later, I took my father and mother to their favorite get away place, an English country house hotel called The Nare, on the coast of Cornwall. Mum needed a break from being with dad 24/7. I was to be the tour guide, chauffeur and companion to my father on his journey through the silence and confusion of Alzheimer’s disease.
And yes, there was a croquet lawn there! So that evening at supper I told my mum, “Tomorrow after breakfast I don’t want to see you ‘til lunchtime. Walk the beach, read a book, go into town, or whatever you’d like to do.” “Well what are you going to do?” she asked with a certain degree of umbrage. “I’m going to play with dad the way I wished we’d played together when I was a young boy.”
After a late breakfast the next morning, I slipped my arm around his and we strolled over to the croquet lawn together. No stripey blazers, no gin and tonics, just me, my dad and silence.
“Dad, let’s play!” I said. And the more we played the more he smiled. As we played together every morning, people who didn’t want to socialize with us at lunch or dinner wanted to play with us. Now his friends had something they could do together with him, and his family had a new way to be with their Poppa.
Inspired by this experience, I founded Jiminy Wicket, a non-profit dedicated to creating intergenerational connection through the power of play. We’ve been doing this with school students and senior communities and taught this wonderful game to thousands of people.
We have hosted powerful, fun, team building events for Marriott, FedEx, Starbucks and many others. We’ve played croquet with people from 129 different countries on 3 continents and they’ve all gone home with a pocketful of smiles. But the thing I love the most is bringing youngers and olders together to play croquet. I love to see their smiles and listen to their laughter as they play together.
Croquet is the most age-friendly, gender neutral and inclusive game on the planet. Last summer, Jiminy Wicket® hosted a little get together at a senior community in Denver, Colorado. I watched a 3yr old help another young lady celebrate her birthday. They played croquet together. We had 5 generations of women playing together that afternoon. And that other young lady - she was 103yrs old and using a walker frame!
Intergenerational croquet transforms isolation into connection, fear into friendship and loneliness into well-being. And why does this work? The science is simple. We share a universal human urge to whack shit. And when we do it feels good!
So, what are we doing now in the midst of the current Covid constraints? Well that’s a story for another day, but for now, I’ll leave you with my two favorite four letter words. . . Let’s play!