Sometimes athletes get a lot of attention. They get praise, press-time, pats on the back, and awards. Which is why it’s easy for them to become wrapped up in themselves and in their own personal performances. And when that happens, team spirit becomes me-spirit.
One way to help your athletes steer clear of a me-mentality is to encourage them to serve and give to others. Not only does this help the person they are giving to, it helps them become better people.
Serve as a team; it will have broader results and it will strengthen the bond between teammates. No team loses out when that happens!
Teach your kids that one individual–or 10 or 11 or 15– really can make a difference by volunteering and giving their time. When kids help others, they learn to tolerate, accept, and respect people of different ages, backgrounds, education, and income levels.
Share these ideas with your athlete, his coach, and his teammates, then either organize the giving-back yourself or get some other parents involved. Chances are, the coach will not be able to add more to his plate, but hopefully there are some parents who see the benefits of giving back and are willing to help out.
Giving back at school
- Set up a buddy system for children with special needs. Or at least befriend a special needs student and encourage friends and fellow athletes to do the same.
- Paint a mural for the school that highlights school spirit.
- Organize a blood drive with the American Red Cross at your school.
- Hold a food or clothing drive at the school for people who have been in a fire or natural disaster.
- Help fix or clean the playground.
- Tutor fellow students.
- Repaint the team dugout.
Giving back in the neighborhood
- Do yard work for an elderly person or disabled person in one of the team member’s neighborhoods.
- Paint or repair neighborhood homes, or help elderly with chores (for free!).
- Welcome new families to the neighborhood.
- Teach an elderly neighbor to use the computer.
Giving back to the community
- Make gifts and send the to kids in the hospital. You can also donate some of your old toys.
- Put on a free clinic for the smaller kids who play your sport.
- Help serve meals to homeless people.
- Build a wheelchair ramp for someone in your community.
- Put together a library at a children’s hospital. Your team can donate enough books to put together a small library.
- Clean up trash at a community event or county fair.
- Volunteer at a local library or to help with a community event.
- Clean up after a natural disaster.
- Clean up a local park.
- Paint fences or park benches.
- Offer freebabysitting. It can be a sibling, a relative or just friend.
- Visit an elderly person after school.
- Collect and donate old children’s books to a daycare.
- Plant a tree.
- Collect and donate old eyeglasses to a place that recycles them for the needy.
- Adopt a mile of roadside or an acre at a park to always keep it clean.
- Collect and then donate supplies that animal organizations or animal shelter may need: Dog or cat food, milk substitute, blankets, cages, dog of cat shampoo or soap, and food bowls, towels.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter, a zoo, or a wildlife sanctuary.
- Visit senior citizen homes or a nursing home: read to them, play games.
- Hold a FREE car wash for senior citizens (a non-fundraising car wash will SHOCK people!) Or put one on for a favorite charity.
- Bake cookies and donate them to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
- Put together first aid kits for a soup kitchen or a local homeless shelter.
- Collect items around your neighborhood and donate them to homeless shelters (sheets, blankets towels, books, toys, diapers.)
- During the warm weather months, set up a lemonade or iced tea stand, and donate the money you make to a charity.
- Hold a garage sale, with proceeds donated to a worthy charity.
- Organize a new or used toy drive for kids at a homeless shelter or for needy kids at Christmas.
Take youth sports beyond the game
As I’ve been “preaching” for nearly two years, youth sports is not all about winning, stats, and playing time. It’s about learning lessons that will help prepare young athletes to become positive, strong adults.
Don’t you think we can go a step further and allow young athletes to be influenced beyond the game by learning to give to others?
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