This past spring when Chloe O’Hearn of HoopStatic brought a couple hoops to a Planned Parenthood counter-protest rally in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, she was hoping to bring a bit of light-hearted fun and attention to what was becoming a very heated local debate. While holding signs overhead with the rest of the group, Chloe hooped for more than an hour, attracting supportive honks and waves from those driving by. The addition of a couple hula hoops went a long way toward diffusing an otherwise emotionally-charged protest. “It lightened the mood a bit with those protesting on the opposite side of the issue,” says Chloe, adding, “How can you be angry and hateful towards someone hula hooping, right?”
Chloe’s interest in defending Planned Parenthood with hoop-in-hand is personal. O’Hearn explains, “This is not about politics for me. Planned Parenthood has saved my life on more than one occasion. Introducing them to the hoop is the least I can do.” After being raped at the age of 14, Planned Parenthood is where O’Hearn received a pregnancy test (negative), birth control, and found reproductive health education throughout her high school years. Planned Parenthood also taught Chloe the importance of getting annual women’s health exams, which is how she learned years later, through early detection, that she had cervical cancer. Now 36-years-old and with a family of her own, Chloe takes every opportunity to support the organization that contributed so much to her health. “Sharing hooping with Planned Parenthood is important to me because I would not be the healthy and successful adult woman, wife, and hoop mama I am today without the support and vital services they provided me when I was younger.”
So when Joan Carr, the Director of Planned Parenthood Memphis, saw the potential for hooping in beginning a wellness program for combating obesity and diabetes in the community, Chloe jumped at the chance to help. This week Chloe and other local hoopers donated their time and resources hosting a hooping workshop for their local Planned Parenthood office. O’Hearn noted, “The workshop attendees were all new to hooping so we focused on the basics and talked a bit about what hooping means to us and what we get out of it – not just the health and fitness benefits, but also the stress relief and healing, fun, dancing, and community-building aspects of hooping.” Chloe also squeezed in some tips for something she considers an “important life skill” – hooping while holding a protest sign.
Planned Parenthood Memphis has big hopes for offering a regular wellness program that would offer a variety of different activities including hooping and yoga. Director Carr also hopes that other Planned Parenthood clinics will catch on to the extensive benefits of hooping and start similar wellness programs in their communities. “Hooping for Health is the first of several health and wellness events I would like to hold at our health center,” said Carr. “Planned Parenthood is all about health and wellness, and that includes fitness.”
Chloe encourages hoopers everywhere to give back to their communities and to passionately support the issues they care most about. For her, volunteering with at-risk teen girls at Youth Villages and with Planned Parenthood through hooping is a daily and spiritual commitment. “I think of it as my way of tithing to the hoop church,” she says.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.