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.

Backyard Sports+ Special Needs Athletes Play GaGa at SUNY Purchase

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This past weekend our Backyard Sports Plus Special Need athletes and coaches were treated to an indoor session of GaGa at Purchase College.  The GaGa pits were provided courtesy of Scott Blumberg and Talon Athletics, a local GaGa activity provider and manufacturer of GaGa specialty equipment. The players received progressive skill instruction, including striking a … Continue reading “Backyard Sports+ Special Needs Athletes Play GaGa at SUNY Purchase”

Backyard Sports Cares Brings Special Needs Sports Programming to New England

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  This fall, Backyard Sports Cares launched its first soccer program for kids with Special Needs in Weston, CT. In collaboration with the Weston, CT, Parks & Recreation Department, the program has gotten off to a great start with enthusiastic volunteers from Weston High School helping to teach young athletes soccer skills, while having lots … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Cares Brings Special Needs Sports Programming to New England”

Backyard Sports Plus Teen Basketball League Gets Going!

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Thanks to our teen coaches and players for a successful start to the Backyard Sports Plus Teen Basketball League.  Coach Vin Minotti led the group in clinical instruction followed by inclusive competitive basketball games for the squad.  We meet Sunday mornings at 10am at the main gym at Purchase College for all interested teen players and … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Plus Teen Basketball League Gets Going!”

BYS Named Family Favorite Again by Westchester Family Magazine

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For a second consecutive year, Westchester Family Magazine names Backyard Sports among the publication’s Top 5 Family Favorites for “Special Needs Recreation Programs.” As part of its annual Family Favorites Awards, Westchester Family Magazine surveys thousands of parents to find out who their (and their children’s) favorite service providers are across 47 categories. “We are … Continue reading “BYS Named Family Favorite Again by Westchester Family Magazine”

BYSC PLUS Programs Open with a Slam Dunk!

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October 4th marked the opening day of Backyard Sports Cares award-winning PLUS program for athletes with special needs.  This fall, BYSC is continuing a new program set up for our growing teen population. Integrated teams comprised of nearly 20 teen boys from the Westchester County area and more than 10 volunteer high school peer mentors scrimmaged against each other … Continue reading “BYSC PLUS Programs Open with a Slam Dunk!”

Backyard Sports Celebrates 1st Family BBQ Open House

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On September 27th, Backyard Sports Cares (BYSC) played coach and host to more than 35 families at the organization’s first BBQ “Open House”. Hosted at the Saxon Woods Golf Course in Scarsdale, NY, the event served to educate Westchester families about volunteer and funding opportunities available through BYSC.  And, more importantly, about 100 moms, dads and … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Celebrates 1st Family BBQ Open House”

Westchester Family Magazine Recognizes Backyard Sports

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Backyard Sports’ programming for children with special needs has been named a 2015 Top 5 Family Favorite by Westchester Family Magazine Readers of Westchester Family Magazine were asked to name their Family Favorites across 37 categories. Thousands of parents weighed in and Backyard Sports was honored as a Top 5 Favorite in the category of … Continue reading “Westchester Family Magazine Recognizes Backyard Sports”

Annual 3-on-3 Tournament Connects Kids & Community Through Sports

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A great day was had by all at our 3rd annual 3-on-3 Tournament held on April 19th at Purchase College. Captured here is one of the many highlights that exemplify the spirit of our organization, which seeks to connect the community and our children through the joy of sports. Watch the video to see how … Continue reading “Annual 3-on-3 Tournament Connects Kids & Community Through Sports”