While the majority of Chicago’s middle school students were wondering what to do with their spring break, Urban Initiatives’ 5th-8th grade Mentor Coaches knew exactly where to be to have tons of fun playing soccer, meeting new friends, and creatively developing ways to help their communities! On Tuesday, March 26th, Urban Initiatives partnered with University of Illinois-Chicago Men’s Varsity Soccer Team and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum to host the fourth ever Mentor Coach Retreat. This unique retreat that focused on Service Learning brought together Mentor Coaches from 19 different schools for our largest turnout yet! Apparently these Chicago youth are excited and ready to give back to their communities!
The day started out in true Urban Initiatives style with an amazing 3-game soccer tournament in the beautiful UIC Flames Athletic Center. Coach Sean Phillips and his staff warmly welcomed the Urban Initiatives student athletes and the players eyes and smiles widened as they saw the gym space already set up for them with official indoor goals, jerseys, and soccer balls all provided by Coach Phillips. With enough space for four fields, every player was constantly moving and engaged in the game. The soccer tournament was an even greater success thanks to the presence of over 25 Northwestern Civic Education Project volunteers! The Northwestern CEP high school volunteers were all incredible role models for our students as they got to know each other by being teammates and volunteer coaches. When the soccer tournament came to an end, the young soccer players were sorrowful to say goodbye to the volunteers and the beautiful space that UIC and Coach Phillips provided for the event. There were many who reported that the soccer tournament was their favorite part of the day, echoing the sentiments of Xzavier who said, "My favorite part was playing soccer because we had helpers!"
The Mentor Coaches did not stay sad at saying goodbye for long as the group moved on to another activity that got everyone smiling quicker than you could say "Jane Addams!" That’s right, the Mentor Coaches could not believe their eyes or ears as they stepped into history at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. Mekaila made sure that student athletes understood the importance of Jane Addams’ legacy as she took them around the museum and packed the tour with incredible information. Christian, one of the Mentor Coaches from Sherman school in Back of the Yards, said, "The tour of the museum was so interesting!" The tour and the amazing impact of Jane Addams’ life set the stage perfectly for the rest of the day as these leaders began to make the connection between what they would like to change in their communities and their ability to influence their communities through positive actions.
The final part of the day was truly inspirational to watch unfold as the Mentor Coaches gathered in their school specific groups to make a profound difference in their communities. Each group considered their strengths and passions and identified who they could collaborate with as they developed a plan to motivate younger teammates and the whole school to make a lasting and significant difference. The Mentor Coaches chose to rally their teams around four various causes that will stand out to the whole community and send a healthy and positive message: Anti-Hunger Campaign, Book Drive, Park Clean Up, and Recycling Initiative. Each project was designed by the students to be a continuous effort and project rather than a one-time event so that the community would be repeatedly reminded about what they were doing and why they were doing it. We at Urban Initiatives are so proud of our young leaders who not only have the potential to make a difference on their soccer team but can change the state of the world they live in by pooling their strengths and talents to make amazing things happen!
Urban Initiatives would like to especially thank Coach Sean Phillips and the UIC Men’s Soccer Staff and Team for their generous help and support. We would like to also thank Amanda, Mekaila, and the Hull House staff who made it possible for our youth to learn from the example of Jane Addams. A big thank you also goes out to Marc and all of the Northwestern CEP volunteers for their commitment and help as they served our youth in the same spirit that they were fostering all day! We cannot wait to see the amazing impact that our Mentor Coaches have on their communities, both in the spring season as they complete these projects and in the long-term future! We will keep you posted so check back again soon!
You can see more pictures HERE