Connecting with Kids Through Coaching (by Guest Blogger Kyle Arntson)

Kyle Arntson has taken two education-based Capstones and has continued his love for working with youth (especially through sports and coaching) over the course of multiple terms…and is dedicated to infusing his post-college life with opportunities to volunteer his skills to support young people.

After taking two University Studies classes I have found that I love working with children, specifically helping them workout, staying fit and understanding the fun they can have while they do it. My first volunteer experience was with Parkrose High Schools Unified basketball team, and my second was working with the students in the Upward Bound Program, where I worked with incoming freshman on their writing skills. While helping with Upward Bound’s summer program I also worked with the students in their fitness class, where the students participated in a variety of physical activities such as yoga, basketball, workout videos and many more fun activities. While participating and observing the students in a physical fitness environment I couldn’t help but notice how close all the students became while working as teammates, and through pushing one another to try their best. I truly believe that children need good exercise, not only for their body’s physical fitness but also as a way to stimulate their brains. With school budgets taking continuous hits, Physical Education programs are seeing devastating blows which is affecting the children in multiple ways. My interest in future volunteer work is definitely to continue to work with kids through sports and fitness activities. I plan to sign up to become a Big Brother, specifically a Sports Buddy. I live in Clackamas County so I believe that is where I will look to dedicate my time with a young man.

I will be graduating tomorrow afternoon, which means I will have a huge work load off of my shoulders. I plan to register with the Sports Buddies program within the next month, giving myself a little time to catch up on the rest of my life and find a time that will best work for me to dedicate my time and energy to staying physically active with a young man. Aside from my time spent with the Big Brother Big Sister program, I have chosen three of “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” steps.

The first of the three that I have chosen is the Go Big & Go Small step. After looking at the possibilities available, I will be spending time with the “Reach Out and Read” program. This activity is located in Lake Oswego and will involve sorting donated children’s books by content and age appropriateness, once sorted they will be distributed to local Doctors offices. I plan to participate in this activity during their morning sessions, and as often as they need me until October, when I officially start my new job. At this point I will look to volunteer during the evening hours and the frequency will depend on my jobs work load. I hope to begin my participation with this program within a week or so from graduation. This task is easy enough and I know I will not want to spend all my time working on my garden and house.  

The second “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” step I have chosen to participate in is to contact my local schools in Gladstone and ask how I can become involved with their local Libraries in the Love Your Library step. I actually live one block away from Gladstone’s Public Library, so I’m hoping that I can find an opportunity there. If the schools I contact have another idea for me I am more than willing to participate any way I can with what they might have in mind. I really enjoyed reading to my girlfriends 2nd graders last school year, and hope to have the chance to do something along those lines in one of my local libraries. My hope is that I can get involved in a Library program at the beginning of the school year, if there are not opportunities sooner than that as I will be contacting the schools and Libraries within the next week or so, again after I have a little time for myself after graduation.

The third “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” step I plan to participate in is the “Simply Connect” step. As I have said I love working with children in a sports and fitness atmosphere, so I plan on contacting Travis and Kesia at Parkrose High School, and stay involved with their Unified sports program. Travis had told me that he would enjoy coaching the basketball team this next year with me, and that there are many other sports they participate in that he needs someone to help him with. I plan to email Travis within the next few days to reestablish contact with him, and see what opportunities are available with him and the Parkrose High School. This participation during basketball consisted of one, two hour practice a week as well as two or more tournaments. I really hope that this option works out for me, because I had such a great experience in that program the last time I volunteered.

I believe in sticking to what I commit myself to, by signing up for volunteer positions I am going to hold myself accountable for each event or time frame that I commit to simply by giving the volunteer sites my word that I will be where I commit to being, while on time and full of energy. The barriers I see that could present themselves while volunteering is my new work load come October 1st of this year. I will be working as a salesman for Albina Fuel, and do not yet know how demanding my work load will be. However, I feel that with the sites I want to volunteer at there are afternoon and evening times available, which will give me great flexibility to work around my new carrier. A second barrier I see presenting itself would be the need to spend time around my house, taking care of the essentials while trying to begin new projects. After owning a my own home from three years now I understand that things can come up around a house that might require immediate attention, which might take up whole days at a time. I feel I can hurdle this possible barrier by balancing work, volunteer time, and house work to try and prevent any huge problems that could occur. I believe it will be easy enough to stay on track with my goals if I take the approach that they are part of a “job” that I will have committed to. Keeping a schedule as consistent as possible will be key factor in helping me manage my volunteer time, just like it would in all aspects of life. 

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