There aren’t many places to play in Ferentari. Many areas of the neighbourhood have been taken over by homeless people and drug users. But the children still manage to find ways of having fun and getting some exercise.
In other parts of the city of Bucharest, it’s quite common to see graffiti containing bad words and prejudices aimed at Roma, for example. But in Ferentari, the children have painted their own graffiti wall with hearts and bright colours.
“All you need for French skipping is some elastic and bouncy feet,” explains Zana, 12. Tie the elastic to make a ring. Two people stand inside and stretch the elastic round their legs or body. The person whose go it is jumps in and out in different ways. If you manage to do a movement, the elastic is moved higher up, for example from the knees to the waist, or just under the armpits.
The elastic is moved higher and higher every time you do a movement. The higher it goes, the harder it gets of course! Tip! If no one wants to stand, you can tie one end of the elastic round a fence or a pole.
Asphalt as a gym floor
Ionut, 18, has been doing parkour and acrobatics for several years together with his friends in Ferentari.
“We learn from one another and by watching YouTube videos,” he says. “Sometimes we film ourselves using our mobiles and upload tricks, so others can see what we’re up to.” Ionut likes parkour and acrobatics, but in the future he would rather be a singer, perhaps a big star like Justin Bieber. “I’m happiest when I’m singing,” he says.
Ionut grew up in Ferentari: “The worst thing is when people in the area get into fights.”
Your body is your equipment in Ferentari, which doesn’t have any advanced gymnasiums: “It takes time to learn stuff. You have to expect to get it wrong loads of times!”
The parkour and freerunning movement started in a suburb of Paris in France, and quickly became popular in high-rise areas where children and young people didn’t have access to nice play areas or big gymnasiums with advanced equipment. Just like skateboarders, who use the street environment, people who do parkour move freely around the city jungle. They do tricks, run and jump on roofs and park benches, asphalt and high walls. The idea is to get about as efficiently, smoothly and quickly as possible, negotiating obstacles and solving problems on the way. Parkour and freerunning is now practised all over the world. Many combine it with acrobatics, climbing and balance training. Give it a go, but be careful!
Photo: Joanna Pelirocha