Connecting and Community are NEVER Canceled!

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Teen Plus Social Nights on ZOOM

Fostering meaningful connections between young athletes, volunteers, coaches and communities is a core component of Backyard Sports Cares’ DNA. And while we’ve unfortunately had to hit pause on our in-person Special Needs Teen Social Nights, that isn’t stopping us from bringing people together. We’ve gone virtual!

The big idea came from volunteer Remy Mastey and a few of his fellow Red Shirts who missed interacting with their special needs athlete partners on Sunday mornings. They approached BYSC Executive Director Danny Bernstein with the idea to use the virtual meeting platform “Zoom” to meet up, talk and socialize. We knew right away this was a great way to enable everyone to stay connected, and “Teen Plus Social Nights” were born.

With guidance from BYSC coaches Dillon Faulkner and Vin Minotti, the Red Shirts planned and hosted the first social on Saturday, April 11th. “We were really excited to make this happen,” said Remy, speaking for the Red Shirts. “We all had good ideas of what we could do with technology we’re fortunate to have. The next step was to figure out the logistics. This was new territory for all of us.”

That first night, we were wowed by the participation among teen athletes and volunteers. At one point there were 30 kids in the ZOOM room! Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face and the greetings shared with friends they saw on the screen was meaningful to all involved.

Like the in-person Sunday classes, each Teen Plus virtual event follows a consistent routine. We begin with a group warm-up that includes stretching and in-place physical movement. That’s followed by an “icebreaker” to engage each individual, and then we all play a fun, interactive game together, like trivia or hangman. Each new activity is carefully planned and practiced during weekly meetings with the volunteers and BYSC staff to ensure all the kids have the opportunity to contribute and feel part of the group. Feedback on the virtual social nights has been very positive.

What we’ve seen during meetups from the athletes and volunteers has been amazing,” said BYSC Program Director Vin Minotti. “Reaction from parents has been the same. The credit goes to our Red Shirt leaders. It was their idea and they’ve worked together to plan and execute each week’s event.”

These Saturday nights have been so well received that we decided to expand our virtual programming to one-on-one volunteer/teen athlete physical activities on Sunday mornings. (Check out the letter from a happy parent to learn more!)

“No matter what, we’re going to deliver programming to kids who need it,” said Danny Bernstein. “Whether it’s virtually or back on the field or in the gym when we’re able, Backyard Sports will always find ways to bring joy and make a positive impact.”

Sunday Morning Virtual Programs

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

A letter from a parent “I just thought that I would share these photos of my son Danny working out with his volunteer Ethan. It was such a nice connection for the boys to have. The sun was shining, the boys were working out and laughing and the dog was chasing all the balls that Danny threw … Continue reading “Sunday Morning Virtual Programs”

Coach’s Corner – May 2020

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

“From Where I Sit…” I’m sitting at home, behind my desk, on Week 7 of our shelter in place directive to contain the unrepentant coronavirus. Sitting around is not a characteristic one usually associates with a recreational organization. We promote hustle and motion, not idle movement. As you can imagine, the inactivity does not “sit” … Continue reading “Coach’s Corner – May 2020”

PM Pediatrics – Sadow Spotlight

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

At work, Dr. Karin Sadow is the Senior Vice President of Quality for PM Pediatrics, a longtime sponsor of Backyard Sports Cares. At home, she’s “mom” to two community-minded teenagers who enthusiastically volunteer their time with us. “We want PM Pediatrics to really be a resource for families,” said Karin. “We’re here to meet medical … Continue reading “PM Pediatrics – Sadow Spotlight”

Community Partner Spotlight: Ron Blacks

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

Ron Blacks has it all: an ever-rotating selection of 40 draft beers, fresh food, incredible service, live music, sports, DJ Bingo, and a beautiful outdoor seating area and bar with a huge outdoor television. However, more than anything else, Ron Blacks a strong sense of community and a desire to give back. One way they … Continue reading “Community Partner Spotlight: Ron Blacks”

Spotlight – Linda Banta and Garrett

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

If we can’t remember a time when Linda Banta wasn’t involved in Backyard Sports Cares, it’s because there wasn’t one! With us from the very beginning, she recalls learning about Backyard Sports while looking for a special needs program for her 8-year-old son Garrett and being impressed by our unique one-on-one peer mentoring model. When … Continue reading “Spotlight – Linda Banta and Garrett”

Volunteer BUZZ: Daniel Katcher

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Categories Vol. 13 Summer 2020

Volunteering with Backyard Sports has been one of the few constants in my teenage years. While it is only an hour or two each week, this work is possibly the most rewarding I have done. I started in 7th grade for my Bar Mitzvah project, and it took me a few sessions to really understand … Continue reading “Volunteer BUZZ: Daniel Katcher”

Backyard Sports At Brant Lake Camp

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags , , , ,

by Scott Galst, former BYSC Volunteer and BLC Alumni I attended Brant Lake Camp as a child and worked as a counselor when I was a teenager. It was a special place where many of my greatest childhood memories were created. I’d like to think I knew at the time how lucky I was to … Continue reading “Backyard Sports At Brant Lake Camp”

Coach’s Corner: Let’s Be Frank About This

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags , , , ,

One of the great byproducts of our community programming is bringing together young athletes of diverse economic zones. A catchphrase I enjoy is that our programs “blend zip codes.” Ultimately, sports participation is blind to color and class. By playing with one another, kids usually discover they have much more in common than their social … Continue reading “Coach’s Corner: Let’s Be Frank About This”

Getting to Know Moshe Arenstein

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags , ,

BYSC Board Member and Executive Producer at MSNBC Moshe Arenstein, a founding Backyard Sports Cares Board member, remembers when he first got the call from Danny Bernstein about 10 years ago. “It took me about 20 seconds to realize how great this was.” While he cites Danny’s passion, vision and excitement as the original draw, … Continue reading “Getting to Know Moshe Arenstein”

Alumni Night

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags ,

Backyard Sports Cares recently celebrated Alumni Night at Brazen Fox in New York City. The night was filled with inspirational stories of growth, compassion, and success. It gave our alumni a chance to reconnect with each other and Executive Director Danny Bernstein. The night also provided an opportunity for alumni to learn how they can … Continue reading “Alumni Night”

Honored by the Youth Shelter

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags , ,

Partnerships with community organizations that serve at-risk youth allow us to bring the fun, skill and life lessons of high-quality sports programs to hundreds who otherwise would not have access. For the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester (YSOW), we provide a physical education class for students, as well as recreational activities that range from hiking … Continue reading “Honored by the Youth Shelter”

Bits N’ Pieces Field Day

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Categories Vol. 12 Winter 2019Tags , , ,

Every year, Backyard Sports Cares organizes an exciting Field Day for the nearly 200 youth enrolled in the White Plains Youth Bureau’s Bits N’ Pieces summer camp. Divided by age group, energetic campers rotate between six activities that include tug of war, relay races, gaga, soccer and more. Overseen by BYSC staff and volunteer coaches, … Continue reading “Bits N’ Pieces Field Day”