Service Learning with Take the Lead

It was another successful Take the Lead retreat this past Saturday with over 50 Team Captains coming together at Beidler Elementary in the East Garfield Park community to participate in a soccer tournament and learn about how they can become leaders in their community.  As students across the nation participate in Black History Month, it was fitting that our Take the Lead team captains learned about an important aspect of the contributions of African-American leaders during their retreat, which is service.

Students then poured into Beidler for a healthy breakfast and to catch up with their friends from other schools, they had the opportunity to hear from Tyler of Free the Children. Tyler spoke about the importance of service-learning and why children have the power to change the world.  Our participants actively listened, with Jazz Hands fluttering each time the word “empowerment” was used, to the stories of children their same age who have created massive campaigns to raise awareness about different issues in society such as homelessness, child labor, and poverty.  They also discovered that after completing service-learning projects in their communities, they will be able to participate in We Day, where students from all over the city come together and celebrate their accomplishments with athletes and celebrities from around the world!

Once they heard the motivating presentation, the team captains broke off into groups where they played in a soccer tournament for 90 minutes! Talk about a workout!  After lunch, team captains were able to learn about the different opportunities available for their service-learning project that they must complete in their communities. Those projects ranged from having a bake sale for a particular issue that is affecting their school to fundraising for a goat, which would help a family in need in another country. Needless to say, the goat project was a popular choice among our participants! With school breakouts, the students were able to plan with their teammates which issue they wanted to combat, their goals for their project, and delegated tasks.  Jennifer from Daley said, “I am so excited to work on this project with my teammates! Since my class learned more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how we should serve others, I just wanted the chance to do something not only for my community, but those who are in need in other countries too!” The team captains truly impressed the UI staff because they are embracing the idea that they can improve their schools and communities!

After a long day of playing soccer and planning for their projects, they were able to wind down the day with a moment of personal reflection.  The captains were able to figure out what personal goals they would like to work on until their next retreat.   After this activity, they all said their “See you later!” and departed to go home, exhausted but better equipped future leaders of their communities.

Urban Initiatives would like to thank Principal Charles Anderson, Coach St. Clair Morris and Mr. Kilpatrick for all giving up their Saturday to open up Beidler for our Team Captains. We would also like to thank Tyler from Free the Children for giving us a great presentation along with Coach Scott from the UI Junior Board and longtime UI supporter and Board member Coach ME for spending their Saturday with Urban Initiatives!

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