'It's Up To All Of Us': Parents Of Young Gymnasts Respond To Nassar Abuse Scandal At Silver Stars Gymnastics in Silver Spring, Md., parents say they won't let the stories of sexual abuse by a prominent doctor ruin the sport for their kids.
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'It's Up To All Of Us': Parents Of Young Gymnasts Respond To Nassar Abuse Scandal

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'It's Up To All Of Us': Parents Of Young Gymnasts Respond To Nassar Abuse Scandal

'It's Up To All Of Us': Parents Of Young Gymnasts Respond To Nassar Abuse Scandal

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The fallout continues over the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal. USA Gymnastics said on Friday that its entire board of directors will resign. More than 150 women have testified that Nassar, former doctor of the U.S. gymnastics team, sexually abused them while he was supposed to be treating their injuries. We wondered how families of younger gymnasts may feel about this story, and we sent WAMU's Selena Simmons-Duffin to a training center in Silver Spring, Md.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: It's a busy weeknight at Silver Stars. Inside the huge gymnasium, toddlers tumble, and the serious older kids run drills.

The walls of the lobby are lined with sparkly new leotards. Parents and babysitters chat or work and fend off requests for popsicles. There's a cooler cruelly placed right outside the gym.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Ice cream. Can you buy one of those?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's going to melt all over.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Most parents here are willing to talk - even about Nassar and this difficult moment for USA Gymnastics. Sari Weiner has been bringing her 6-year-old daughter here on and off for about three years.

SARI WEINER: I've always thought that the competitive nature of the sport is extremely messed up. I think it is just like unconscionable how long it went on and how nobody spoke up about it. But if my daughter is, like, compulsively doing cartwheels all over the house, I'm going to put her in gymnastics for as long as she's having fun.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Many of the parents here are enthusiastic about gymnastics. Their kids get to work off energy, gain confidence.

CARA ALTIMUS: I still really love it for my daughter.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Cara Altimus brings her 3-year-old here to get stronger and have fun. She's been following the Nassar story but says it doesn't really feel connected to her experience at Silver Stars. But there was actually an issue here over the summer. A father put a small spy camera in the bathroom.

ALTIMUS: I thought the studio handled it very well. So there was a lot of communication, and their staff has re-upped their training on community safety of children.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Most parents I find in the waiting area are like Altimus. Their kids are little and here to play. Parents of the competitive gymnasts who are here multiple times a week mostly just drop them off and come back when practice is over. But there are a few who stay.

VALENTINO IORDACHE: My name is Valentino Iordache. It's Romanian - so gymnastics, Romania (laughter).

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: His daughter made the team USA Gymnastics level 1, where they learn the skills they'll need to compete. To him, the sexual abuse scandal isn't about gymnastics, and that's what he told his daughter.

IORDACHE: I told her that there are crazy people in this world, and she needs to know about it. Gymnastics has nothing to do with a bad incident here or there.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Lowrey Redmond's 8-year-old daughter is on the same team. For her family, the Nassar story has been a big deal.

LOWREY REDMOND: My oldest daughter, Adele, gymnastics is her life. She's kind of a mature 8-year-old, so I knew that she could handle talking about some of this. I didn't tell her the details. She knows that a lot of girls and women stood up for what's right and they're gymnasts just like her. And her first reaction was - Mom, that's really cool.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Her 5-year-old daughter Mabel does gymnastics at Silver Stars, too. So they're here a lot.

REDMOND: I thought maybe I would be worried about this being systemic and, you know, our girls are never going to be in a safe place. But it's up to all of us to keep coming into the gym and making the adults in charge - hold them accountable.

Hi.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Mabel walks up to Redmond as we talk. She's ready to go home while her sister stays to practice for another hour. They bundle up and head out into the cold evening.

REDMOND: Does Adele love gymnastics?

MABEL: Yes.

REDMOND: What about you?

MABEL: Yes.

REDMOND: Yes.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: They're a gymnastics family, and she won't let Larry Nassar take that away from them.

For NPR News, I'm Selena Simmons-Duffin in Silver Spring, Md.

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