Yikes! Even I think this topic of homeless children and youth can get downright depressing, especially after last week's definition saga. So, because it's a beautiful day and because I want to tell people an upbeat story, read on to be happy!
A few months ago I decided that applying for membership in the Professional Disc Golf Association was a good thing, so I sent off my $40 and viola! I can now put the membership on my resume! I also applied for a small grant, $500, for HEAR US to share this awesome sport of disc golf with kids who are/were homeless.
Fast forward to last Wednesday. A group of excited kids and moms gathered at Castaldo Park in Woodridge, IL to learn the ins-and-outs of disc golf. The weather was spectacular for early August in IL. My good friends Helen and Karen came along to assist--Helen with DG, Karen with kid happiness--and our new DG friends, Cathy, Mike and Johnny D rounded out our team.
Barb T, the Bridge Communities education maven, had spread the word among the Bridge Communities' 70+ families (yes, over 70 families in DuPage County are homeless--way over 70!) and her word worked. We had a bunch of kids--I never did count. And moms got to watch or play, their choice.
The laughter and excitement that poured from these little kids--many under 10, a few wizened teens--was infectious!
To get everyone fueled up and rarin' to go, Nancy's Pizza donated 6 super-size pizzas which amply fed the group.
The next exciting part was giving them their very own disc, and letting them put their name on it. "I get to keep it???!!" was the typical response, followed by a huge thank you.
Next, after divvying up the groups, Helen and I with the wee-ones, we hit the course. We figured our little buggers would only want to play a little bit, but they avidly went at it, following instructions--don't hit someone in the head or other body parts, wait till we tell you to chase down your disc, and try to throw it toward the target.
Some of the least likely suspects became primetime players. Little Sara amazed even herself, with a smile eventually breaking out from her stoic countenance. Another kid, in a scooter, found out that this is a game he can play and enjoy. Moms could sit back and watch their kids romp through a beautiful park.
Mike and Cathy from Midwest Disc Golf, along with our DG mentor, Johnny D, shared their copious skills and their love for kids. Mike and Cathy brought a box of gently-used discs that we distributed.
Seems to me that this couldn't have been a better way to spend a birthday if I tried.