Name: Jarrel Phillips
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Major: Child Development
Favorite Quote: “The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ - and find that there is no death.” - Eckhart Tolle, author of “ The Power of the Now”.
His Quote: "We learn through our experiences, we must explore our world and try new things. Play is the perfect platform, especially for the youth."
Jarrel Phillips, an S.F. State senior, is the founder of Zanzibar Stone Town Capoeira Project, which teaches youth of all ages how to play capoeira in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art invented by the African slaves of Brazil in the 16th century.
As a child, Phillips became involved in gymnastics and capoeira through an enrichment program in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. He describes himself as “one of those kids that like to flip around.” Capoeira gave him an outlet to escape and helped him focus.
During this time, he became acquainted with Mestre Urubu Malandro and Capoeira Ijexa, which drew him back to the practice at the age of 21. Phillips was introduced to people through capoeira, who told him about some youth in Zanzibar who were interested in training in capoeira.
Phillips started working with children at the age of 14. While teaching children in afterschool programs, he was drawn to children’s perspectives because he learned “playing was a learning experience in its puriest form.”
To further explain his observation, he said, “It’s like when you’re exploring a kitchen [as a child] and you touch the burner [while it’s on]. You learn that it’s hot and never touch it again. We learn from our experiences.”
As a gymnastics instructor at AcroSports, he was sponsored by his job to travel to Zanzibar for his first trip. Through fundraising and hard work, Phillips started the Zanzibar Stonetown Capoeira Project. He then returned the following year to Zanzibar, bringing with him masters of capoeira, gymnasts and B-Boys to teach capoeira, acrobatics and breakdancing to the youth.
Phillips still currently teaches gymnastics at AcroSports and has also started a capoeira program for children there. In addition, he teaches capoeria across the Bay Area. The children of AcroSports will soon be belted at the 1st Annual AcroSports Children’s Batizado (batizodo is ‘baptism’ in Portuguese) on June 2, from 4-6 PM at AcroSports, located on Frederick Street in San Francisco.
He is also presently developing an organization called AVE, which is an abbreviation for “Access via Exposure” and an acronym for “Avenue.” Ask him why and he’ll tell you, “because I hope to provide all of these opportunities to all communities and youth, especially.”