What are your final impressions of the kids in your program?
Your community partner?
Can you grow your sport? Is it the right thing to do?
My final impressions of the kids in the program at D'abate are that they care for each other, they take advantage of the many opportunities the school provides to engage in sport, and they have a tremendous amount of respect for their teachers and administrative staff. Due to the high percentage of Spanish speaking families in the olneyville area, several of the children attending the school do not speak English. This was a challenge for me, but I was always surprised by how eager and willing the billingual kids were to help their spanish speaking classmates. It wasn't entirely clear what the motivators for this was, because most of the time the kids going out of their way to help did not appear to be close friends with the peer they were helping. There were times when I struggled to relay instructions, and that showed in the activity that the children were taking part in, as they would be confused and get extremely frustrated very quickly, but someone would always step in and explain the activity in a way that everyone could understand Maybe it' something that has become a norm within their school community, but it always made me so so happy to see so many of them taking on this initiative without being asked. I was also really happy to hear that so many of the kids enjoyed trying new sports, and that the school offered many opportunities for them to do so throughout the school year. Some of the kids discussed how they liked participating in Mr. Ablehouse's after school soccer program. During my time at D'Abate I also noticed that the children were outside for a good portion of the day, and regardless of if they were participating in an organized sport, they were, for the most part, active during their time outside. The children were always finding simple games to play with each other with bouncy balls, pine cones, etc (that almost always turned into some type of competition) that allowed them to remain active during their free time outside.
I do believe that there is opportunity to grow both basketball and volleyball at D'Abate. There is a genuine interest and excitement for both sports, and the school is able to provide the infrastructure and equiptment to do so. Looking outside of the elementary school, there are many opportunities for children to participate in basketball in the city, so providing them with the opportunity at an early age could peak their interest and give them motivation to continue with it. Looking at volleyball, there are much less opportunities for children at the middle school age to participate in volleyball. There are a few clubs in the area, but even at that, those clubs are competitive, and designed to cater to the highest possible level of play, as opposed to teaching beginners. Volleyball is a very difficult sport to teach to young children because of the level of technical skill it requires, and if the sport should be expanded at D'Abate, it should be approached in a way that emphasizes teamwork, fun, and knowledge of the game, rather than building technical skills.
Increased physical activity has been linked to higher academic performance. Allowing children the opportunity to become more active also increases their likelihood of reaching higher academic achievements. Physical activity also teaches important life skills and values that can aid to productivity inside the classroom. When children are held to high behavioral standards on the playing field, or court that discipline can also be transferred into the classroom and other settings. For example, coaches requiring attentive listening and mutual respect from their athletes are developing characteristics of good behavior within these children at an early age. This foundation sets children up to build upon this behavior in the classroom, at home, and in other settings. Sports can also act as a uniting/positive social tool for bringing peers together. All sports require effective communication and teamwork. Increasing sport will facilitate the development of strong and meaningful relationship between peers. It strengthens the sense of community, as they are working toward a common goal-winning.
The audience for this argument should be comprised of the individuals and groups with the most power to increase sport in the community, as well as those with the influence to promote participation in sports. The mayor and city council directly have power to make changes in policy and begin initiatives supporting an increase in sports across all of Providence. They have the power and resources to fund sports programs at local recreational centers and clubs. The board of education should be included in this argument because many of the prexisting opportunities for children to participate in sports are at school. The board of education would need to realize the value of sport in the city’s schools in order for increases in competitive sports to happen at meaningful rates. The general population of Providence should also be included in the audience. Children are heavily influenced by their parents, and children are more likely to understand the benefits of participating in sports if thier parents also share and promote this value with them.
What are your impressions of the children in your program?
They're extremely well behaved for their age. It takes a bit of provoking at times but they are really full of energy and most of them are very excited to be playing sports. They know each other pretty well, probably because they go to school together during the year. Because a good amount of them speak spanish, their bilingual classmates are very eager to help those that may not understand my directions. I found it really surprising that during drills they help each other a lot, giving each other feedback and reiterating my instructions to their peers. I got a really strong sense of community from being there for just the first few days.
How many are in your group? What are their ages? Gender?
I have three groups a day, and there are six groups in total. Group 1 is the youngest (kindergarten or first grade) and group 6 is the oldest (fifth grade). There are 8-12 children in each group, with evenly mixed genders.
Are they prepared to ‘play’?
Most of them are prepared, but in each group there are always a few girls showing up in flip flops, sandals, or boots. Even some of the boys have shown up in sandals and slides. They still participate, but loose their shoes when they're moving around once in a while.
What are the challenges?
I noticed with the younger groups that they get tired really quickly. After the warm up they were asking for water breaks, and throughout the session they would ask if we were almost done. They complained of the heat, and wanted to go back inside. During drills they would sit down on the ground. At the end of water breaks it was always difficult to get everyone to get up and come back to the court. At some points, half of the group was sitting on the sideline just watching and refusing to participate.
What has been working?
Incentivizing has worked really well. For the groups that were less well behaved, or had less energy, I explained to them that there would be a prize for the hardest working person in the group, and that always turned everything around. I also have not stuck to any of my practice plans because I find it easier to let them guide the practice. I always start out with going over one or two fundamental skills, and then try to mix those skills into fun games, in order to retain their attention, and also so they will have fun!