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

Upcoming student group

After an encouraging turnout at NU’s volunteer fair last week, the co-ops and I feel confident that Huskies for Sport in Society will have a successful future.  Most students were drawn to our table due to the affiliation with Sport in Society.  The students decided to sign-up, though, when we informed them about the group’s mission and volunteer opportunities.  It was reassuring to learn that while an overwhelming amount of students had an interest in sport they were more passionate about community service.

Tomorrow night marks the group’s first organized meeting.  If even half of the students who signed up at the volunteer fair come to the meeting it will be a good turn out.  We plan on screening an episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series.  Four days in October, a story about the Boston Red Sox, will most likely be the first viewing.  Aside from the movie we will also discuss future meeting times, commitment and scheduling as well as group goals.

By utilizing Sport in Society’s partnership with the YMCA we have already secured a few volunteer opportunities for club members.  Volunteer services will range from SAT prep to tutoring to coaching basketball.  I’m hoping that every member of the student group can find a volunteer opportunity that fits their interests and needs.

Posted by: Courtney Mortimer