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

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