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Witnessing the Power of Play

By Rachael Rapinoe / October, 27, 2013
IMG_8571Today was our third day at camp Goz Amir, and what a day it was. We have been training the preschool teachers at Little Ripples, who are all women and have no previous teaching experiences. So far the classroom settings have gone very well. They’re understanding the material that Gabriel and Sarah-Christine are teaching them. The women have been very quiet though, it’s been difficult to see their personalities shine through. I hear conversations amongst themselves and little bursts of laughter here and there. I’d love to speak their language so I can have real conversations with them, and understand who they are as individuals and what their journeys have been like. I want so badly to hear their stories, dreams and passions.
Before we started the classroom training today, we decided to stay outside for about 45 minutes to play games with the teachers and children. Our goal was to show them 4-5 fun exercises to do with the kids to help promote happiness, joy and physical movement, which is great for everyone! The drills included circle passing with a soccer ball, promoting awareness and coordination and a few variations of relay games with and without a soccer ball. Our i-ACT team was in utter amazement as we observed what the power of play instilled not only for the children, but the female teachers as well.
For the entire 45 minutes, there was nothing but captivating smiles and laughter bursting from the LIttle Ripples courtyard. Children, mothers and fathers were lined up around the fences watching our games and wishing they could participate. Some of the teachers may have never even run before, let alone play in a competitive game of any sort. It was incredible to see these shy, unassertive women break out of their shells and free their competitive spirits. We could feel the joy radiating from their bodies, like it had been deep inside of them for a very long time.
Even after our i-ACT team left the courtyard the women continued to play with the soccer balls. After 20+ years of being an athlete, I have never witnessed the power of sports and games like I did today. This was truly one of the best moments in my life.


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