Since the beginning of her term with Urban Initiatives as a coach with Coach Across America, Becca Martinson has completely dedicated her time, energy and talents to help combat the alarming levels of obesity in Chicago’s children. She has been especially effective at Nobel Elementary School where she not only coaches but also partners with the school and the community to foster a culture of health and wellness.
One relationship that she has initiated and maintained with a student speaks to the level of her engagement and impact. Jimmy, a third grader who is a soccer player on the Urban Initiatives team, could not find the motivation to push himself and excel in the area of physical fitness due to the debilitating teasing and bullying other kids directed his way. His drive to live a healthy lifestyle was consistently flattened by others, and their negative comments on his weight left him with crushed hopes. However, Becca has used the connection she made with Jimmy to encourage him every time she is at the school. Her dedication to create a safe environment on the soccer team led Jimmy’s peers to respect and cheer him on. Becca also directly involved Jimmy’s parents and older brother in his desire to achieve the goals he set for himself both on and off the field.
Aside from the opportunities she helps create for kids like Jimmy, Becca also offers an invaluable skill set. With a natural talent for organization and task management, Becca is also an inspiring and creative thinker. She has been foundational in defining Urban Initiatives’ approach to partnering with schools on Chicago’s Healthier Schools Campaign for the next year. We now have a more clearly planned timeline for the next coach that is placed in a school to work with this campaign. One of our most effective initiatives within that campaign, the Cafeteria Waste Contest, started with her idea of encouraging kids to finish everything on their plate during lunch! She has also actively discouraged many of her soccer players at other schools from consistently resorting to corner stores for unhealthy snacks.
These are just a few of the stories that point to Becca’s influence and impact on both Urban Initiatives as an organization as well as Chicago’s youth and their health.