During this past winter offseason, Urban Initiatives was thrilled to partner with the Big Shoulders Fund and schools St. Angela and Our Lady of Grace for a season of Soccer Sixty. Typically Urban Initiatives has partnered exclusively with Chicago Public Schools, but through this amazing partnership with the Big Shoulders Fund, Urban Initiatives was able to expand its reach to serve the students within this network and provide them with a rich opportunity of fun and learning through our Soccer Sixty program, which uses soccer to engage students in health education and character development.
Urban Initiatives is extremely grateful to the Big Shoulders Fund for providing the financial support to operate this programming in these two schools and ensure high impacts and results for deserving youth around Chicago. Our Program Associates Bryant, Helena, Brandon and Kevin share their Soccer Sixty experience.
Through Soccer Sixty, having the opportunity to coach the kids of St. Angela school was an incredible privilege. From the first day of practice, all 30+ 2nd-4th graders came to practice with a desire to have fun, work hard and be active. The St. Angela’s team enjoyed three practices a week consisting of their favorite games such as Pacman Tag, Banana Tag, Stingers, Star Wars and of course Handball!
When the time came for their first game day, the St. Angela’s team showcased all the skills they had developed at practice scoring many goals and sharing lots of high fives. Building strong team culture and unity is a difficult task on any level. But throughout the season it continued to grow at St. Angela. By the time the final game day came, the team was clicking on all cylinders.
The kids were truly sad to see the season coming to an end. We built strong lasting relationships with the students and the staff paving the way for great soccer seasons to come. Coach Brandon and I would like to thank all the staff at St. Angela’s for helping us out everyday and being there for us anytime we needed them. St. Angela rocks!
The 8 week season at Our Lady of Grace has really been one to remember. I was completely amazed at how quickly the kids became attached to me, and vice versa. As soon as the bell struck 2:45 the students came racing down to the cafeteria ready for practice.
If another Program Associate ever had to substitute for me, the kids would always say the next day I came “where were you? We missed you!. The students not only loved being apart of the soccer team but their parents loved it as well. At game days many of the students parents would ride the bus with us to the game, as well as help myself and Coach Helena with supervising the kids.
My greatest memory from Our Lady of Grace is when a student wrote an essay about me for his class. He wrote about how important and special I was to him. That really moved me, to him I was more than just some guy teaching them soccer, to him I was something more, a role model. I am very appreciative of that and hope to be able to effect more kids in the same way.
Urban Initiatives would like to thank the Big Shoulder Fund along with the amazing staff, families and kids at both Our Lady of Grade and St. Angela!