saiah Riggs poses after passing his drone certification.
saiah Riggs poses after passing his drone certification during the Harris County Street Olympics. Credit: Jimmie Aggison

The Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics has been crowning young champions for over 37 years. Whether in kickball, track and field or basketball, local youth have been able to compete in a wide range of physical activities. This year the Street Olympics focused on inspiring youth to have fun while learning skills they could take to the future workforce.

“We have a spelling bee, poetry and other components that we engage kids throughout the summer in meaningful fitness activities as well as mental activities to teach and identify leadership opportunities,” said Executive Director of the Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics, Jose Rivera.

Credit: Jimmie Aggison

Johnny Molock, IT Director for Bridging the Digital Divide, was on hand hoping to get more minorities active in flying drones. Jobs in this field can range up to $150,000 per year with only three months of training.

“Only 3% of drone operators are women and roughly only 7% are Black or Brown. So, we are trying to make sure that minority men and women get the information and take advantage of the opportunity,” said Molock.

Gabriel Reed, a sixth grader who attends Lawson Middle School, aspires to become an aviation pilot. He began working with the Bridging the Digital Divide organization while at a camp at his previous school, Windsor Village.

“He was an outstanding student. He flew the drones well. He also participated in our simulators and learned how to edit videos, while at the camp,” said Molock.

To be able to fly a drone there are two types of licenses one could acquire, recreational or commercial. The recreational license allows you to fly a drone recreationally. This license typically takes about an hour to receive. However, if one wants to fly commercially, that course usually takes about three months. Bridging the Digital Divide was on hand allowing participants to test and receive their recreational licenses.

Isaiah Riggs, a junior at Jones High School, was the first to come and get certified while at the Street Olympics.

“I’m always the first in everything,” said Riggs. “I saw a bunch of big drones and I thought to myself, cool, what if I fly these? They told me that this is easy money when I get older, so this serves as a backup plan for basketball. If I get injured, I can always turn to this. I’ll fly for commercials or test other people’s drones for them. I see it as easy money for me to take care of myself and my future family.”

Hundreds packed inside NRG Arena and tested their skills. Many walked away learning new skills and being exposed to more opportunities. The Harris County Street Olympics has come to a close this year but has planted that seed in many local youth, that they can become anything they put their mind to.

I’m originally from Kansas. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in communication studies. Shortly after moving to Houston in 2007, I began doing photography. I covered cy fair sports...