Still Kids at Heart by Joe Calabrese, Director of Foundation RelationsJanuary 20, 2011
Posted by Application
It is easy as someone who works for Hillside Family of Agencies to think about why youth find themselves in our care. It is sometimes hard to remember through the trauma and the difficulties these youth have endured that they are still kids at heart.
Last week I had the occasion to visit the Andrew-Trahey Campus School Physical Education Department. The staff have been discussing with me the possibility of replacing some outdated equipment and I wanted to see for myself the condition of the equipment and the space the department had to work with. I expected to take a few pictures, develop a plan and come back to work with the basis of a few great grant applications. What I witnessed was something much more remarkable.
As I spoke with Lisa Jackson, one of the P.E. Teachers, a new group of youth entered the gym and pool area. I had never seen the pool on the “hill” before. While the pool is impressive in size (one of the reasons I was there was to see the overall needs of the pool), what was more impressive was the way the youth were playing together, the smiles on their faces, and the joy they were having.
In physical education class the students engage in a variety of activities to work on improving their overall motor skills, fitness levels, and learn how to participate in healthy activities that they can enjoy throughout their lives. On this particular day I observed the students playing water polo. Throughout the school year they will experience: football, soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, disc golf, softball, field hockey, floor hockey, swimming, cooperative games, and fitness activities to name a few. Another important benefit of participating in physical education is that the students have the opportunity to work on important life skills, such as: teamwork, sportsmanship, cooperation, fair play, conflict resolution and communication skills.
These youth came into Hillside with different backgrounds and histories. Many had little interaction with each other outside of this recreation time. But in that moment, as I watched, they were not thinking about what brought them to us, they were just having fun the way that kids do everywhere.
We work hard to let Hillside supporters and the greater community know that the youth in our care are not “bad kids.” My visit to the P.E. program reminded me that these youth are just “kids” when given the chance.