If it is cheers of “Go Rams!” that you hear as you walk down the halls of our Rockford elementary schools over the next few weeks, it is because the Rockford varsity hockey team is visiting the fourth-grade class to discuss character education. The team has developed a youth outreach program that allows the players to go into the classroom to discuss teamwork, sportsmanship and the importance of academics. The players will visit six fourth-grade classrooms throughout the Rockford Public Schools district, teaching the kids about these important concepts through fun activities and role modeling.
The first topic, “Teamwork,” is discussed by putting the kids in groups of four and requiring them to figure out how to remove knots in a rope without any of them letting go. It forces the kids to think about each others’ roles, what to do next, and the challenges of working as a unit. Once the game is complete, the players wrap up with questions of the kids regarding what their challenges were and what they learned about working as a team. The players practiced this game themselves before going into the classrooms just to make sure that they knew how to do it.
The second topic, “Sportsmanship,” is illustrated by playing the game of Hangman. The kids are asked to guess letters to complete different phrases. Following the rules, being a good sport, playing fair, and showing respect are the framework for the wrap-up discussion. The kids are then asked to give examples where they or others around them have demonstrated good sportsmanship.
The last topic, “Academics,” focuses on the importance of education. The kids play math bingo and then talk about why math is important and how one uses math in their day-to-day life. The discussion also focuses on the importance of staying focused in school.
These visits provide many benefits for both the players and the kids. They demonstrate how sports can play an important part of a child’s character building, they provide fun and excitement for the youth when learning about social responsibility, and they provide the players an opportunity to give back to our community and understand the influence that they have on our youth everyday.
Sports and education work together to develop the character of our youth—one game at a time.