Bridging cultural differences through sport: Visiting UK coaches introduce rugby and cricket to Westchester grade schoolers

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Backyard Sports Cares “guest counselors”, Rhodrey Dafydd and Tom Finnigan of the United Kingdom, recently spent the month of May participating in our afterschool and special needs programs.  They led early morning and recess rugby and cricket programs to elementary school students in White Plains and New Rochelle. They also assisted in a physical education (PE) program for residents of the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester.  Here is a reflection of their experience.

By Rhodrey Dafydd

When Danny Bernstein talked about having us work for BYSC nine months ago, Tom Finnigan and I were interested in the opportunity from the moment he mentioned the idea. After further conversations during the holiday season in Edinburgh, we rang in the new year and got the ball rolling on this adventure. As winter turned to spring, and spring very quickly turned to summer, our bags were packed and it was time to head to the USA. We landed on Sunday evening and after filling our bellies with a typical XXL American burger, we found ourselves pumping up Rugby balls in the living room ready to start work at 7am the next morning.

Coaching rugby, a virtually unknown sport amongst children in the US, was a challenge we were ready for. The following morning, adorned in our new Backyard Sports staff shirts, we set out to introduce rugby to approximately 120 children in Church Street School, White Plains. The first session went by in an instant, and with help from Coach Danny we achieved what we set out to do. We had kids running around passing a Rugby ball with beaming smiles on their face and having fun. Over the next three weeks we travelled all over the Westchester area working in many schools in White Plains, Mt. Vernon and New Rochelle.

Having the opportunity to work for BYSC and coach rugby, a sport that many Americans are unaware of, was a great experience that Tom and I will cherish for a very long time. No matter your age, cultural ethnicity, income level or language, sports breaks down barriers and serves as an excellent tool to build relationships among diverse peer groups.

#MissionGaGa takes flight at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club

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As part of Backyard Sports Cares’ Mission: Gaga 2018 initiative, BYSC, in conjunction with host families, will be donating a portable gaga pit to the Boys and Girls Club so they can enjoy the game all year-round. To get the kids formally introduced to gaga action, Backyard Sports Cares hosted a Gaga Day on Thursday, January … Continue reading “#MissionGaGa takes flight at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club”

Productive Discussion: BYSC brings local at-risk youths together with role models from the Westchester Knicks

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How do you get at-risk youths in crisis to open up and take some hard-won advice? If you’re Backyard Sports Cares, the answer is pizza…and a few local heroes from the Westchester Knicks! This past week, Danny Bernstein, executive director, Backyard Sports Cares, decided to add a unique dimension to the recreational programming that the … Continue reading “Productive Discussion: BYSC brings local at-risk youths together with role models from the Westchester Knicks”

Backyard Sports Cares Leads Art Appreciation Program at Yonkers DaySpring Center

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Following successful programs with the White Plains Youth Bureau and the Mary Blige Center, Penny Bauersfeld of Scarsdale recently completed a six-week “Learning to Look” art appreciation program with 12 elementary school-aged children from the Day Spring Center in Yonkers. The program includes five weeks of afterschool study of various periods and artists.  Children learn … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Cares Leads Art Appreciation Program at Yonkers DaySpring Center”

Game, Set and Match! — An Interview with BYSC Tennis Coach Rita

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By Arden Franklyn Although some believe tennis is an exclusive sport, it’s actually largely recognized around the world as a mainstream activity that can be played by virtually anyone.  I recently caught up with Coach Rita, who leads the Backyard Sports Cares’ afterschool tennis program every Thursday at Ridgeway Elementary. The veteran tennis coach typically … Continue reading “Game, Set and Match! — An Interview with BYSC Tennis Coach Rita”

BYSC Tennis Program Flourishes at Ridgeway Elementary

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By Arden Franklyn Every Thursday, for 90-minutes, Rita, BYSC’s Tennis Coach, leads a group of 10 kids from Ridgeway Elementary through various energizing drills that are focused on the fundamentals of tennis. But the drills themselves aren’t the only reason why improvement has been evident among these young players. Before rackets or balls take to … Continue reading “BYSC Tennis Program Flourishes at Ridgeway Elementary”

Just Keep Swimming!

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By Arden Franklyn Whether your child swims for sport, exercise or fun, nothing quite compares to the feeling of weightlessness and freedom that swimming offers. I recently caught up with Colleen Ferguson, SUNY Purchase Swim Captain and lead coach for Backyard Sports Cares’ afterschool swim program for the Slater Center. Every Tuesday, Coach Colleen instructs … Continue reading “Just Keep Swimming!”

BYSC Afterschool Swim: A Day in the Pool with Slater Center Youngsters

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By Arden Franklyn Water + Kids = Fun  — That was the winning formula last Tuesday at Backyard Sports Cares’ weekly afterschool swim program for Thomas H. Slater Center children. Hosted at the SUNY Purchase pool and led by Swim Team Captain, Colleen Ferguson, the program brings the fundamentals of swimming to seven to ten-year-olds with limited … Continue reading “BYSC Afterschool Swim: A Day in the Pool with Slater Center Youngsters”

Backyard Sports Cares Announces Sponsorship Alliance with PM Pediatrics

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Pediatric Urgent Care Provider to Help Sponsor Afterschool Recreational Programming at Mt. Vernon Elementary Schools Backyard Sports Cares (BYSC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing high quality sports programming to young athletes with limited access to community programs, announced today a strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, one of the nation’s largest providers of specialized … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Cares Announces Sponsorship Alliance with PM Pediatrics”

Cheerleaders give performance pointers to Edward Williams Elementary schoolgirls

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For the past three months, Backyard Sports Cares volunteers and Scarsdale High School Varsity Cheerleaders, Madison Doyle, Ariel Stonberg, Talia Abbe and Isobel Lloyd, have been visiting and working with young girls at Edward Williams Elementary School in Mount Vernon. Last week, the fruits of their labor came to the stage. Edward Williams Elementary students, … Continue reading “Cheerleaders give performance pointers to Edward Williams Elementary schoolgirls”

BYSC + Jefferson Elementary Build Bridges for Latchkey Kids in New Roc

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This week marks the third week of the Jefferson Elementary after-school program, known as Puentes, which means Bridges in Spanish. Located in New Rochelle, the goal of the program is to keep kids in a safe, caring and educational environment. “Many of the kids in our program at Jefferson would be going home to an … Continue reading “BYSC + Jefferson Elementary Build Bridges for Latchkey Kids in New Roc”

White Plains Youth Bureau Honors Backyard Sports Cares at 45th Anniversary Gala

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In recognition of the enriching multi-sport afterschool programming that Backyard Sports Cares (BYSC) provides for the White Plains Youth Bureau and the organization’s Bits and Pieces summer camp, Backyard Sports Cares was honored with a video presentation, including heartfelt testimonials of admiration and appreciation for its programs. “After five years of working together with the White … Continue reading “White Plains Youth Bureau Honors Backyard Sports Cares at 45th Anniversary Gala”

Art Program Puts Youngsters in Touch with their Creative Side

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Backyard Sports Cares & Slater Community Center Program Exposes Kids to Art, Creative Expression and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Through a generous donation from friends of Backyard Sports Cares, twenty- four second and third graders from the White Plains Slater Community Center participated in a five-week art program culminating in a visit to the Metropolitan Museum … Continue reading “Art Program Puts Youngsters in Touch with their Creative Side”