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

I am he as you are me and we are all together

These last few weeks I have been exposed to a new side of society, the philanthropic side, that I didn’t really think existed except in the government’s welfare offices, or in the fairy tail lands Disney movies. It seemed like people cared more about cats and dogs than their fellow man. I was beginning to lose faith.

My last co-op at an economic research firm was on the flip side of SIS. Their mission statement: Make a profit. Don’t get me wrong I met lots of nice people while working there, and learned many things that will help me get to the next level in my professional career, but I needed something more wholesome. I truly believe that your work defines who you are as a person. I would rather spend my time working for the empowerment of other people than for the empowerment of a corporation. It just feels better at the end of the day.

This week I had the opportunity to go to a professional development seminar taught by Sport in Society’s very own Jarod Chin. All the YMCA teen directors, and SIS co-ops were there to be educated on violence prevention, and the power of the bystander. Jarod is a great facilitator. I can tell because he hardly ever speaks or comes up with a ground breaking idea. He intentionally steers the conversation one direction, and lets us come up with the epiphanies and examples that are great take-aways.

We have all witnessed a fight in our lifetime. (I know me personally, I saw about one a day in middle school, especially while playing sports). It was usually a fight over a basketball game that escalated into physical violence and punches being thrown. What did the rest of us do while this was happening…? We gathered into a circle and watched, oooooing and ahhhhing as our friends tried to kill each other. Living in a society that glorifies violence as an essential attribute in being macho dilutes every kid that receives Mentoring in Violence Provention (MVP) training. I feel like for every person who sees the real problem in settling arguments with violence there are 10 more that are watching playground fights on youtube, or playing the latest GTA video game. This just makes it harder for those kids, teachers, and YMCA staff members who actually are able to react positively when a fight breaks out, and defuse the situation.

On Thursday night I went to the AltrUHelp event in this swanky building along Marina drive on the wharf. I was with my friend Brett who was a co-op at SIS last cycle. This event was cool. Lots of people had set up tables to explain their non-profits and causes. Brett, Caitlin and I spent the majority of the night meeting other people in the industry, and explaining our experiences at SIS. I was amazed at all the different ideas that people had for their start-ups and non-profits, and the different ways they went about attaining resources they needed in a heavily capital driven society.

Drinking free ‘Gansett, eating free Boloco is every college kid’s dream right? But it was the people I met that stole the spot light in my mind. I now understand how important networking is for my future, and last night i got three business cards (I’m currently ahead in the co-op biz card competition) from people I talked too who were interested in our cause as well as interested in me for future job openings and volunteer opportunities.

It’s funny how you don’t really realize there’s a community around you until you are actively helping the people of the community. Then all of a sudden you meet tons of other people who are also on your side working towards a common goal of economic and racial equality. You also get the chance to interact with the participants who you are trying to reach out to in order to provide support for them. Most people are grateful, friendly, and heedful when you lend them a hand. Sport in Society gets lots of positive feedback for the work they do in the community, and I bet if you asked any employee here they’d say it’s worth it to continue their work. As the weeks go by here, and I attend more meetings, events, and training sessions I get a better sense of how everyone in the community comes together in faith.

By Charlie Pioli

Celtics CommUNITY Crew

Yesterday the co-ops and I had the opportunity to volunteer at Mattahunt Elementary School and Community Center in Mattapan, MA.  We were invited by the Celtics community crew along with volunteers from the Celtics staff, season ticket holders, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, Dana Barros, City Year, YMCA, and other community partners.

City Year team leaders organized 6 projects throughout the school to be completed by over 150 people within the 2 day event.  Projects included building benches and an outdoor classroom, organizing the school library, cleaning up the school yard and painting inspirational quotes and a mural.  As team 6 we were responsible for painting the mural that sketched out by a City Year team member.  This project was really rewarding because it was very hands on and it will be the first thing the kids see when they walk into the community center.

The artist behind the mural wanted to inspire the students to achieve their educational goals while uniting their community.  Going off the Celtics theme of “unity”, the mural was painted with shades of green and emphasized togetherness.  The work was long and tedious, but by the end of the day we were able to step back and see what we had accomplished.  Right before closing ceremonies Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Scott Brown stopped by to contribute to the work we were doing on the mural.  I even got to work alongside Governor Patrick and speak with him about Sport in Society and how every little effort makes a big difference.

Yesterday was the kick off day to many volunteer and community outreach projects sponsored by the Celtics CommUNITY Crew. The other co-ops and I had a great time and felt like we really made a difference for Mattahunt School and community. We look forward to future projects and events.

Below are some pictures from the event:

Ready to work
Center of mural

Co-ops posing about halfway through the painting process
Almost complete

Posted by: Elizabeth Stern

Getting to know Hyde Park

The start of my co-op here at Sport in Society has me at the Hyde Park YMCA.  I am working directly with another co-op, Demetrius Biggs.  Neither Demetrius nor myself were significantly knowledgeable about the area, so in our first week here we sought out to examine Hyde Park.  What is the community like?  Who are the members?  We wanted to better understand the area and people we will be working with for the next 5 ½ months.

A quick walk through Clearly Square, where the YMCA is located, gave us a snapshot of what Hyde Park is made of.  What we saw was encouraging.  A local pizza shop employee spoke highly of the community and the neighboring YMCA.  She knew YMCA staff members by name and went on to explain that she feels safe walking to and from work.  Beyond the pizza shop Demetrius and I observed a diverse collection of local businesses, along with a few chain stores, and members of the community walking around.  There did exist a couple empty storefronts, but we came to the conclusion that this neighborhood was on the upswing.

Inside the YMCA I was eager to know more about the teen members.  During the first couple of days at Hyde Park the teens were shy and hesitant to open up to us.  I guess I was also shy towards them as well.  After all, the Teen Center or “The Zone” is a special place for teens and we were the newcomers.  Eventually, Demetrius and I discovered common interests with the kids and communication really opened up.  Talking about sports, music and pop culture served as a sort of icebreaker.  Once we could get a solid conversation going it was easy to get to know the individual personalities of the kids.

I’m looking forward to talking and working out with the teens throughout the remainder of my co-op.  Each day I learn something new about them and where they come from.  Also, I think they are genuinely interested my role at the Hyde Park YMCA along with getting to know me, too. For tomorrow, a group of girls have expressed interest in doing a track related workout.  I’m excited to give them a glimpse of what I practice everyday and learn from the girls what they’d like to get out of their YMCA experience.

Posted by Courtney Mortimer