Dear Members, Partners, and Friends,
Our team has spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about how we move through this unprecedented situation, and then forward as a community. Before COVID-19, we were full steam ahead carrying out the Game On Philly! Plan with our members, partners, and other sports-based youth development stakeholders. And then everything came to a screeching halt.
Considering the daunting number of unknowns, we are focused on what we do know
We know that over 200,000 youth in Philadelphia have been isolated into spaces where they may no longer have direct connections with their peers, their teachers, their coaches, and others who care for them; we know that many of these children are now sheltering in place in what could be traumatic environments.
We know that our 46 member organizations, while doing their very best to maintain connections with their students and coaches, have had to completely overhaul what they do best – directly provide for the wellbeing and development of young people through quality sports-based programs.
We know that our providers will be on the front lines with tens of thousands of Philadelphia youth and will be a crucial support system in healing the trauma that children will face during the COVID-19 crisis.
Obviously, any and all available resources should be spent on containing the virus, healing those afflicted, and supporting the brave caregivers on the front lines of the crisis. For our part, we should focus on a changing game plan. What we must do now is prepare and focus on being ready. Because when things return to some semblance of normalcy, our kids are going to need us more than they ever have before. They will have been through multiple levels of trauma brought forth by this crisis, and they will need us the minute we can see them again.
The sports-based youth development sector is naturally positioned to support youth on the other side of this crisis. Sports, the way we deliver them, does all of the things that can help kids heal from what must be an incredibly unsure and frightening time: it provides mentors who are trained in trauma-sensitive practices, provides repetition and skill-building physical activities that serve to settle the stressed brain, provides camaraderie and belonging that teaches each child they are part of something bigger than themselves, and provides a safe and affordable space to spend time.
Our game plan may look a little different than it did a month ago, but our commitment to our organizations, our partners, and most importantly the kids we serve is unwavering as we move forward. We will continue to advocate for the resources needed to support our member organizations, partners, and sector as a whole to ensure that we are ready to serve our kids when the time comes. Because when this crisis lifts, we all must be ready. Our kids deserve nothing less.
Be Well and Game On!
Beth, Becca, Emily, Jay, and Mike