The following reflection was written by Grassroots Coach Kira “Kir” Flaherty, a senior on the Women’s Soccer Team at American University.
Grassroots Connect is the event coaches, students and parents all look forward to following the 8-week Grassroots programs. Although the weekly Grassroots sessions are always fun, nothing tops Grassroots Connect! There is a lot of work that goes into the preparation of this event, which is what makes it so great! It’s the day when students from different programs come together with the parents and coaches from the multiple D.C. schools participating in Grassroots. They play games, eat good food, meet with health providers who engage them in educational activities, and generally have an enjoyable time. There is also a huge bouncy house, an awesome DJ, space to play basketball and soccer, and the kids and parents receive Grassroots t-shirts and drawstring backpacks for their participation at the event.
This was my first time at Grassroots Connect and it was such an exciting experience. The students had so much fun and really loved meeting other kids from other school programs, playing in the bouncy house, dancing with the DJ and eating the delicious food that TGP provided. There is no doubt, however, that Grassroots coaches and parents enjoyed the event too! It was nice to meet and mingle with coaches from other programs as well as parents of students who participated in my program. At Grassroots Connect, I really got to feel the sense of community seeing everyone genuinely enjoying themselves at the event. I also saw firsthand how well the kids have connected and built relationships with their coaches throughout the 8 weeks leading to this point. One of the cool things about Grassroots Connect is getting to award the kids with certificates for their participation in the Grassroots program. Not only does it give them something to brag about to their families and friends, it also shows parents the value of a program such as ours and how we have taught their children important things about their health and wellbeing. The kids will now be equipped to go out into their communities and share this important information!
My favorite part of the event was when one of the students from each program was awarded the “Shout-Out Award”. This award is given to the exemplary student in
each program who participated in and brought enthusiasm to every Grassroots session
throughout the semester. The excitement of the students who received this award was
heartwarming and made this volunteering experience a truly rewarding one for me. I am
so glad to have been a part of Grassroots Connect this year especially since I will be
graduating this May. Grassroots Connect is an event that the kids will reflect on for a
while, remembering all of the important information they learned throughout the 8 weeks
they did Grassroots, and all the fun they had while doing it!