Chicago’s SBYD program staff have been working tirelessly this year to help kids cultivate a love of learning through sports, so Urban Initiatives honored this effort by hosting the first (and hopefully annual!) Program Staff Summit.
The summit was an opportunity for them to learn about each other and learn from each other. Our goal was for participants to leave with a greater understanding of how their work fits in to the larger landscape of SBYD in Chicago, and have an idea of how they might continue to grow professionally in this field.
Jess Lopez from Up2Us led a discussion on High Impact Attributes, where folks considered the range of skills that kids learn in sports that apply across all areas of life. Alex Landberg from Chicago Run engaged coaches in team culture building. Brendan and Becca from Urban Initiatives got real with a discussion about how to work with some of the most difficult kids we encounter (and why they need it most!), while Brian Bullington from America SCORES led an exploration in strategic relationship building.
Although people led the discussion, the room was full of chatter, with folks meeting each other for the first time and hearing about how other, similar organizations work to serve kids through sports!
The second part of the evening featured a panel of experts sharing their journey in SBYD. Oji Eggleston (Near West Side CDC), Antonio Thomas (Youth Guidance- BAM), Alex Landberg (Chicago Run), Ana Juarez (Chicago Youth Boxing Club), and Alan Smith (Triple Threat Mentoring) are all youth development experts who generously offered their insight to the group. They talked about the unique value of sports-based youth development, especially as it concerns our Chicago sphere. Ms. Juarez mentioned how the boxing club helps break down barriers by uniting Black and Latino kids in an activity they both love. Mr. Thomas spoke to the power of sports because it teaches kids how to lose, who are then able to be resilient in the face of various experiences of failure.
The evening concluded by honoring one staff member who is demonstrating outstanding performance and commitment in their role as a coach. The vision for the Service through Sports award was to honor a young coach, at the beginning of their career, to appreciate them in the present and motivate them to reach their full potential. This year, we honored Briana Weems from Girls in the Game.
An event like this hinges on people talking and sharing with each other, so every individual in the room contributed directly to a stronger effort to serve Chicago kids through sports. Urban Initiatives was so proud to bring everyone together, and we are looking forward to doing it again soon!