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August 19, 2013 / Suzanne Bergenhenegouwen

PYD Field Day

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Temperatures are high and the exciting summer spirit was captured at the Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) Field Day that Huskies for Sport in Society hosted at the Little League field in the Boston Commons last Saturday. PYD is an organization that matches disabled youth with a mentor. Matches meet monthly and do all sorts of things as a team. We, Safaa and Suzanne, met Steve, the Mentor Match specialist at PYD, at a networking event in April. We’ve been planning and mapping out the activities for the day, together with volunteers Kelsey, Margaret, Chloe and Anna from the NU Girls Rowing team. The aim for the day was for the matches to meet with other matches and, most important, to find out that, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, they have many things in common.

The day started with ice-breakers.  We had a great start with the “Categories” game, where the group mingles and after a category is announced, quickly organizes itself into smaller groups based on the category to which they  identify with, for example music taste, nationality or favorite ice-cream flavor! We now know that Boston is the participants’ favorite city that only one person likes pop music, and that vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are the most desirable ice cream flavors.

Since the day was full of sports activities, it was important to stretch our muscles and the rowing crew did a great job leading this. All loosened up, the group split up and formed 5 groups, each group for each fun-station, including Soccer Challenge, Kite decorating and flying, Frisbee golf, Red light – Green light, and the Oreo-challenge. Throughout the day participants rotated around the fun-stations, learning new skills and more about each other and, most importantly, practicing being the leaders they all are.

Kelsey and Suzanne facilitated the soccer challenge. Our first group consisted of a visually impaired, really into sports couple. The mentee is a soccer-fan and his mission for the day was to get his mentor, into the sport as well. After some basic dribbling games, we started a World Cup tournament. It was Serbia against the US, against Regina (PYD’s co-founder and CEO) who represented Italy just because of her love for the country, against Suzanne who represented the Netherlands. Serbia won by 2-0-0-0, but we were even happier that all participants enjoyed playing the game.

The next group played a 2-against-2 game. Although it was a tied game, they were all winners. They cheered on their team mates and each other showing great sportsmanship.

All participants showed leadership skills. One member of each group was responsible for a smooth transition between stations, which required awareness of time and initiative. Other members were leaders in their own way. One felt comfortable explaining an activity, while another would rather demonstrate an activity with one of the facilitators. Towards the end of the morning, two mentees even initiated and energized the others to play a game of kick-ball.

To conclude the day, we gathered at the stands and recognized these leadership skills with a certificate to each of the mentees. Leadership exists in small actions, whether it is encouraging team mates to play or guiding them so they can participate fully. It was great to see new friendships emerge through sport and to find out commonalities that lie below the surface.

This was our first time organizing an event on behalf of Huskies for Sport in Society. The whole process, from the initial meeting to recruiting volunteers and actually hosting the event, was a great learning experience and something to build on for the future of H4SIS. A big thanks to the NU Rowing crew, we hope we can work together in the future! Here’s to Field Day becoming a regular, seasonal event. Watch this space for the next Sport in Society and Partners for Youth with Disabilities collaboration!

Saf & Sue

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