With a pair of scissors, Aldo and his classmates cut out pentagons from black construction paper to form a soccer ball. They answer questions on who their favorite soccer player is along the blank sections of the cut-out. During a separate reading activity, the students study the “anatomy” of the book Mia Hamm book, “Winners Never Quit,” examining parts of the text like the title, illustrations, title page, and dedication. Together, the class discusses who Mia Hamm is, read the book, and talk about when they have ever felt like they wanted to quit like Mia had wanted to quit soccer. They later go outside for a soccer bowling activity, keeping their own scores as they take turns kicking the ball at a set of cones to knock them down like bowling pins.
Aldo and his classmates participated in summer soccer programming through Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning (CORAL). CORAL is an expanded learning program of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara that is designed to engaged youth via balanced literacy that teaches fundamentals of literacy aligned with the common core, “Moves” lessons with a physical activity twist, homework assistance, hands-on activities, and enrichment. The goal of the program is to help young scholars progress in literacy, while still obtaining a strong foundation of developmental skills. The program engages youth across various districts, including Franklin McKinley School District, San Jose Unified School District, and multiple charter schools, with five camps serving elementary schools and one STEM camp working with middle school students.
Each year, the summer camps take on a thematic interest. This summer, youth participated in programming enriched with various soccer-related activities. For example, the Moves thematic would emphasize sportsmanship through outdoor soccer games, while balanced literacy lessons, such as read-a-loud or journaling, would feature books on soccer stars such as Mia Hamm. Soccer became a common thread that grounded lessons in their own interests.
“Within our low-income communities, soccer is a huge hit. It’s accessible, and not so equipment-based, where you need to buy a lot of materials to play,” says Program Director Angie Lopez.
To close the summer learning gap, students were also given incentives to set goals and complete reading hours. Thanks to partnerships with the Santa Clara University Women’s Soccer Team, Shortino Funders, and the San Jose Earthquakes, prizes have included soccer balls and tickets to Earthquake games. The two teams have also been involved through presentations, meet-and-greets, and soccer clinics with students throughout the program.
“In our region in Silicon Valley, parents often work two to three jobs,” says Angie. “It is a challenge for them to create enrichment on their own. We try to engage the students and more than anything, make it a fun, educational experience.”
To learn more about Catholic Charities’ CORAL after-school program, visit http://catholiccharitiesscc.org/coral-after-school-program.