Kicking Off The 10th Year Of Work To Play

The first week of the 2012-2013 Work to Play Program is officially in the books! 15 year-round schools (Track E) helped Urban Initiatives kick off our 10th year of our health and education soccer programming in the Chicago Public Schools. UI kids from Englewood to Pilsen, from Back of the Yards to Cabrini, all hit the field for fun-filled soccer sessions. Our participants either woke up early for morning practices before getting their school days started or practiced after school to expend the energy built up from focusing all day in the classroom. No matter where or when the sessions were being held, our turnout was great and the excitement was amazing! Kids at Daley were so excited for the start of a new season that 64 third and fourth graders showed up for the first day of practice!

Our teams are made up of old faces along with plenty of new ones. Returning players picked up where they left off before their summer break, remembering to use their “sweet spots” for complete control of the soccer ball and reflecting on the healthy foods they ate over the summer. It quickly became obvious that these second through fourth graders are ready for another year of Work to Play. Tyshwon a second grader from Jenner exclaimed to Coach Simba, “Coach, I’ve been counting down the days for school to start because I missed the soccer team! I waited all summer to show you my new skills I practiced.”

While the past participants jumped right in, the new players were not far behind. Their enthusiasm to be a part of the team yielded smiles that stretched from ear to ear. They quickly experienced our Week 1 lesson of Teamwork by having returning players show them how to properly trap and pass the soccer ball.

Urban Initiatives welcomes two new schools this year, Providence Englewood Charter School (PECS) and Marquette School of Excellence. These additions expand the Work to Play Program into 22 Chicago Public Schools for the fall season with hopes of adding two more by the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Jaime Vaca, the On Site Program Director (OSPD) at Marquette held a great first week of practices for his team. The OSPD at PECS, Erin Ellinger, also kicked off the Work to Play Program with a great lesson on Teamwork while parents watched their kids learn new soccer skills.

Another new addition to the program is the official switch to water! Through our weekly health discussions we teach UI kids to drink 4 servings of water each day. So instead of juice boxes, UI kids will now be given 8oz water bottles along with their granola bars and fresh apples as healthy snacks after each practice and game day!

The first week of the fall season culminated with a Friday Game Day for students from Walsh, Libby and Nobel at Chicago Indoor Sports. They hopped on the bus and participated in an afternoon of soccer fun! They all showcased their soccer skills and made some new friends.

We expect our 10th year of Work to Play to be our best! We appreciate all of our principals, teachers, school staff and parents for embracing the Work to Play Program over the past 10 years. We also send a big THANK YOU to all of our supporters for believing in us to provide a quality health and education soccer program for Chicago’s underserved youth! Here’s to another 10 years of Urban Initiatives programming!

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