Boston University’s club flag football team hosted a clinic for at-promise kids at Amory Park last Sunday Oct. 23, in a collaboration with DREAM, a non-profit with a BU chapter.
The clinic provided activities ranging from flag football drills and scrimmages to painting and activity games, led by both BU flag football players and DREAM mentors.
With locations in Boston, Vermont, Philadelphia and more, DREAM, which stands for “Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring” provides mentoring and activity-programming to kids aged preschooler to teenager. These kids are then paired with college-aged mentors and stay with their mentor for two to four years, adding an element of stability.
“It’s really positive to have this positive role model,” said DREAM mentor Nobel Chan, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s really positive to have that consistent presence in their life and to just provide them a really positive space.”
Football is a very popular activity among the kids in the DREAM program, so the collaboration was driven by their love for the sport and the BU flag football club’s desire to work with the community. Since its creation this summer, the flag football team has been looking for a way to organize a clinic for kids.
“We were looking to do a clinic for kids in the area,” said the club’s president Isaac Darien, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science. “This was the perfect opportunity because DREAM already had a bunch of kids who wanted to play.”
The motivations behind the activities go beyond just the benefits of exercise and a way to spend their high energy levels — athletics provide role models to young children.
“All of the kids that we work with are of color, so I think in the sports field, they see themselves represented more than in other fields,” Chan said.
Playing football also offers an opportunity to teach the kids about the value of teamwork and how to fight through adversity, in addition to learning how to take instruction.
“It’s a good opportunity to learn a lot of different skills like teamwork, being able to fight through adversity and if there’s any problems with not playing well, and you gotta go to be able to come back from that. So it’s a nice skill,” said Charlie DeCurtis, a member of the team and a junior in the College of Communication.
After cycling through drills, a scrimmage was set up where the kids got to put on their flags — red for one team and blue for the other. This gave them an opportunity to practice their new skills in a live-game format with BU players running alongside them.
While football was the main event, other activities were provided for the kids less inclined toward organized sports. Some mentors set up a picnic blanket with paints and brushes to decorate wooden figures.
There were also the few inevitable kids who wanted to do neither — they ran around and entertained themselves. Eventually, every kid was involved in physical activity, whether they were scrimmaging or playing “Red Light, Green Light.”
This event provided the kids in the DREAM program the opportunity to learn new skills, meanwhile the flag football club was able to work with the community and grow alongside.
“It’s not just about us helping (the kids) or anything,” Chan said. “It’s about us learning from each other.”