January 14, 2002

THE NEW YEAR is getting a good start at Sunol Glen School with the addition of a wonderful new sports and activities program. Sports4Kids will begin serving our school when the new semester begins on January 24, providing a variety of sports and leadership activities during and after school.

Jill Vialet, Executive Director of Sports4Kids worked with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s office to bring the program to Sunol Glen. “Basically, we provide lunchtime, recess and after-school sports throughout Alameda County,” Jill said. “The program is in its sixth year and we’re currently serving 36 elementary schools and over 19,000 young people. We work from a framework of youth development we basically use sports as a tool for teaching kids about inclusion and working together and a pure joy in play.”

The organization emphasizes skill-based rather than competitive sports activities. One of its primary tenets is that positive sports programming helps kids of all ages and abilities to learn basic athletic skills, build self-esteem and confidence, develop social skills and make friends.

This is a laudable and much-needed program. Sports4Kids reports that due to budget cuts, public elementary school students get, on average, only 45 minutes of physical education per week. Thankfully, Sunol Glen is far above average, with PE classes four days a week for the upper grades and at least three for the lower grades. “Our site coordinator will help the school’s PE teacher in whatever way works best,” Jill explained. “The coordinators work independently at each school, so if, for example, they’re great at marshal arts, they might work with the PE teacher to put something together around that.”

The program provides constructive sports activities during recess and lunchtime, which often lowers the discipline problems that occur at those times. Sports4Kids lunchtime and recess programming includes game supervision, non-competitive games, leadership and conflict-resolution training through its Junior Coach program, and introduction to new sports.

After-school program activities include homework help, interscholastic games, snacks, field days, special multi-school events called Friday Specials, and field trips. With programs running in Sunol’s neighboring communities of Fremont, Hayward and Livermore, interdistrict tournaments are a possibility.

In addition to activities at the school, Sports4Kids also coordinates a coed volleyball league that will begin in March and a girls’ basketball league, as well as summer sports camps for special populations and a high school mentoring project training teens to assist with tutoring and other after-school activities.

According to Jill, the site coordinator for Sunol Glen is in the final hiring stages I’ll introduce the lucky Sunol-bound person in a future column. Sports4Kids is a private, non-profit organization and is always looking for volunteers to help lead playground activities and games at any of its school sites. Volunteers assist the Site Coordinator in checking out playground equipment, organizing and playing games like kickball, 4-square, jump rope, etc., and other activities.

The time commitment is flexible and volunteers can spend as much or as little time as they want. In-school programs usually run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and after school from 2 to 5 p.m. No experience or physical aptitude is required just a desire to play with kids and have fun! For more information on volunteering, please call Sports4Kids at 510-893-4180. If you’ve guessed that volunteering is going to be one of my big themes for ’02, you’ve got that right!


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