Work to Play Week 4: Physical Activity

Program Associate Brandon Reed shares what his soccer players learned regarding physical activity at his schools during week 4 of the Work to Play season!

When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, getting adequate physical activity everyday was almost second nature. Even in the era of television and video games, to me, nothing is more fun and important to a child’s growth than having that time every day where they can just let loose and be free! I like to think at Urban Initiatives we do a great job at encouraging the importance of being active everyday. At my schools on the south side, the student’s level of physical activity is in full force and everyone is getting in on the action in their own special way.

At Sherman Elementary, during a team time discussion after soccer practice, we talked to the kids about the importance of getting physical activity daily. It was refreshing to see that they were on top of it! Some of the kids said they “exercise so they won’t be lazy”. Others knew that physical activity was important to “keep your heart rate stable”. My favorite response though was, “if kids don’t play we won’t grow big and strong”. When talking to group about their favorite physical activities, we got a lot of the things you expect, from riding my bike, playing jump rope, playing tag, and even roller-skating.

Posing this same question to different kids at my schools I got some great insight into how my students play outside of soccer practice! At Kozminski, one of the team captains, Stephanie Mead, is an expert dancer. “ I love to dance in my free time. I have been dancing since I was 1 year old!” One of her teammates, Alexis, is on the Cross Country team at Kozminski and she simply put it, “I love anything that involves running”. At Attucks elementary one of my more energetic players, Davion, told me, “ I always get my physical activity because I have been in the golden gloves boxing since I was 6”. I couldn’t help but be impressed by his enthusiasm for the sport.

Isaiah, another one of my captains at Libby Elementary, told me “I loves soccer but football is my true passion.” He faithfully wears a red big ten-conference football sweater and he has ambitions to play running back or safety when he gets to high school. Back at Sherman, Maria, one of our newest players on the soccer team, has a passion for volleyball. She told me, “That’s what I hope to play when I get to college”, I couldn’t help but encourage her even more. I attended the University of Illinois and I know firsthand women’s volleyball is big stuff!

Talking to my students this week, I have been truly impressed hearing all the ways they engage in physical activity. Listening to their stories has altered my perception that kids rather stay in and play video games all day. There are still some kids out there who know the value of play time everyday and I like to think that Urban Initiatives plays a big part in encouraging our students to keep it up!

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