Youth Development through Sports
I’ve been an AmeriCorps VISTA for 3 months now. It’s pretty amazing to think that 3 months have already flown by. As of today, we have 296 kids in our sports program, meaning that we’re serving a lot more middle schoolers then we set out to serve. Although we don’t know each of their economic situations, most of the kids we are serving are low income. It’s amazing having the role I perform here at Jubilee REACH. Not only am I able to work as a VISTA, but I also develop the operations side of the Sports Program, including the coaches, referees, volunteers and any other component of running a sports league. Some of my favorite moments are just spending time in the coaches’ room with the coaches, finding out what they need, meeting those needs and then getting “atta-boys” from all of them. The times I’ve spent getting information, doing research, and undertaking the data collection have also been pretty amazing seeing where kids come from, understanding family situations, and then trying to find ways to better the lives of the kids I get to serve. There’s plenty of stories that I could write about, as we have new opportunities to change a kid’s life in a positive way daily, but I’ll only say a few.
I’m lucky enough to have a team of coaches that are not only spiritually motivated but are also just amazing people to be around. When I showed up at Highland to introduce my fellow VISTA member, Rachel Riley, to my head coaches at Highland, the head coach Carlos wanted to show me what his kids had been doing. Carlos actually started the entire soccer program at not only Highland, but for Jubilee REACH. It was because of him and his fellow head coach, Jonathon that Highland kids had raised test scores, increased family relationships, and became strong, dedicated members of their community. Carlos has taken a group of boys and girls and made them into great examples and amazing competitors.
The final story that I have is about Jeff B, the head coach at Tillicum Middle school. Jeff came from a background that was full of struggle and perseverance, and he has pushed through it to become an example for his kids. One of his boys was very upset with the directions Jeff had given him, and had taken off his Nike penny and kicked dirt on it while swearing at Jeff. Since we don’t allow behavior like that in our sports program, Jeff asked him to leave. The next day, the Principal asked Jeff into the office and explained that the young man had an incredibly rough upbringing. Jeff, finding this out, had a plan for the young man. When the young man walked on the field that day, Jeff asked him to run. The kid refused and Jeff decided to run for him. After doing 10 wind sprints each day that week, the young man came up to Jeff with tears running down his face and said thank you. He told Jeff he had never had someone do that type of gesture for him.
Some data about our Sports Program:
- 296 Kids (and counting)
- Each kid plays for free
- Nike has donated over $20,000 worth of equipmen
- A Majority of our kids are from single parent homes, most without fathers present
- 7 Head Coaches, 32 other coaches, 17 of those unpaid
- We are in every middle school in Bellevue, which has a population of around 109569 and 17,700 in the Bellevue School District
Overall, this has been an amazing experience and I cannot wait until we start new programs to better serve the kids of Bellevue.