As we expand across the nation with the Coaching Corps movement, we also continue to define the change we want to be in the world. Our coaches are agents of change in communities that are plagued with poverty, violence, broken schools and unsafe streets. Coaching Corps coaches interrupt the cycles of poverty by providing safe places for young people to play, learn and grown – often during the critical hours of 3pm-6pm when youth are most likely to be victims of violent crimes. Many of our coaches however do not come from the communities they coach in and for maximum positive impact to occur, it is necessary for them to develop a deeper understanding of what their young players experience on a day-to-day basis.
To that end, on February 9th, 2013, Coaching Corps hosted its first ever “Building the Movement” conference in downtown Oakland. The conference framed the Coaching Corps Movement within the broader social justice movement of equity for children from struggling communities. Attendees included Coaching Corps Chapter Leaders, Coaches, AmeriCorps Coaches, AmeriCorps VISTAS, and Coaching Corps staff members.
The morning tipped off with a powerful lecture from Adafela Thomas, the Director of Programs at Youth Together, an Oakland nonprofit “committed to peace, unity and justice” by “promoting school change” . Mr. Thomas spoke passionately and candidly about his experiences as a social justice organizer and his career as an advocate for youth. After lunch, attendees had the opportunity to reflect on the morning session with a “lunch and learn”.
In the afternoon, attendees spent time outside in beautiful Frank Ogawa Plaza as Regional Coordinators shared techniques with the coaches to better facilitate drills with their players. AmeriCorps Coaches and VISTAS shared their personal experiences with one another as AmeriCorps service members, exchanged goals for the year, and networked.
Matt Boggess, Director of Community Engagement at the UC Berkeley Chapter had this to say, “The Building the Movement conference was both informational and motivational. It helped me to greater understand the social context that Coaching Corps is a part of and gave me the opportunity to become motivated by, as well as share ideas with others who share a strong passion for this movement”.