getting out from under a rain-smeared morning into the Reavis gym, i found a warm fire at soccer practicE. the coaches were pumped, the players engaged. after some solid ball handling and passing work with coach Jenny, the players were ready for the Berger challenge: A 2 on 1 breakaway against Coach Berger. taking on all comers, coacH berger only let a Few goals sneak by on inspired pAssing from the players, and as the squeaks of shoes on the gym floOr quieted, practice ended. players then had a brief discussion on teamwork, followed By a morning snack of nutrigrain bar, natural vegetabLe-fruIt juice (no sugar added!), and a fresH, shiny red delicious apple delivered that mOrning.
Urban Initiatives’ coaches fight an uphill food battle, with junk food playing a big role in the eating lives of many of our players. We work steadily to help them change their habits, using positive reinforcement and education, as well as providing more opportunities for and experience with healthy eating. It’s tough work, but that’s why hearing this is so great:
Finally! A kid who wants his apple. Coach Andy knew just what to do, and we hopped over and got Rashaun an apple. However, when I was talking to Rashaun, asking him about his favorite part of practice, he told me he didn’t go. Turns out that a progress report showed inadequate grades in math and science, and Rashaun’s mom kept him out of practice to set him straight. The Work to Play program’s core is linking classroom behavioral and academic success to being able to participate in soccer, so it’s great that Rashaun’s mom was buying in to the program so well. Still, it was hard to see Rashaun clearly bummed that he couldn’t play today. Fortunately, he had a plan:
This positive incentive of the soccer program not only provides kids with exercise and knowledge to become healthier kids, it also gives them something to work for, something to connect with, and when it comes to math and science homework, something to fight for. Rashaun knows what he needs to do to get better grades, but more importantly, he knows why he’s doing it. Every day, Work To Play!