Since September, we have urged the after-school kids to value their passions. In the fall, we gave them a new menu of activity options every Friday—all kinds of arts, crafts, performance, sports and other activities. Then in January they each chose one of four projects offered by their leaders—performing a dance or play, writing a cookbook and designing original board games. Each child worked on his or her project for the next two months of Fridays. We wanted them to see what was possible when you pursue something with commitment. After much practice, the kids presented to their families. They proudly showed the way they had stewarded their passions to create vibrant and joyful projects.
In late March, the kids were invited to do the decision-making for themselves. Their leaders asked them, “What passions do you want to explore in this final month?” They shared their ideas, debated the options, voted to narrow them down and eventually landed on three projects.
One of these projects is a sports group. As much as possible, the leaders have tried to place the planning and execution in the kids’ hands. The athletes spent time brainstorming about what exactly they wanted to achieve in their time. They considered the pros and cons of committing to one sport versus dabbling in many. They discussed how to divide leadership and how to gather the needed materials. They planned what to present to their families at the final Passion Project Party. Throughout this process, they were learning to express themselves and listen to each other, make compromises, set priorities and plan ahead—all incredibly important life skills.
Ultimately, they decided to use each Friday’s 90 minutes to explore two sports per week. They made a schedule and divvied up leadership, each getting a sport for which they would be “captain.”
They have been out on the field for the past month. So far they have tried out kickball, hiking, four-corners, football, soccer and basketball. Next up is baseball and handball! Their group kids from 1st to 4th grade. They are mostly boys, but 1st-grader Kailynn is representing the girl power well, along with Tanya, the after-school leader that is supporting them.
On the surface, their time together on Fridays can look like simple free play—but so much growth is happening. Several times 2nd-grader Alex has become frustrated, feeling like he can’t keep up with the older boys. Elijah, one of our 4th-graders has encouraged him, drawing him in to include him in huddles, encouraging the others to pass Alex the ball. Kailynn started to melt down about not scoring any goals in our soccer scrimmage, but her team urged her to keep trying, and helped her discover and appreciate what an incredible defender she was, blocking and stealing the ball from boys twice her size.
Elijah brings his team in for a huddle!
Kailynn’s fierce game face!
We look forward to the games to come and to the big photo slideshow that the kids plan to present to their families in a few weeks (wearing hand-decorated jerseys, of course!). We’re grateful for all they are learning. They are discovering what they are capable of when given the opportunity and means to put their passions into action.