Grassroots Health hosted its first-ever student-athlete training at Temple University this past weekend at the Pearson and McGonigle Halls on Temple’s campus! Amidst the Temple Women’s Basketball game on Saturday and the Philadelphia Eagles football game on Sunday, we still had a great group of athletes show up to training ready to play games and participate in discussions about health equity! Veteran athletes from Howard University came to Philly over the weekend to facilitate the sessions and officially welcome Temple athletes into the Grassroots Health family.
What is Grassroots Health?
Grassroots Health is a community-based, non-profit organization that trains Division 1 student-athletes to be health educators in middle schools. We aim to harness the power and platform of student-athlete volunteers to be near-peer role models in middle schools. We believe that although student-athletes have natural leadership skills, we still need to train them adequately to make sure we are serving the community with integrity. Training is an opportunity to learn more about the community, health equity, nutrition, sexual, and mental health promotion best practices, and have fun with our games-based curricula! Grassroots is more than a community service opportunity, but is a way to work together and put the skills D1 athletes have to use in a meaningful and sustainable way.
What does training look like?
We spent the first hour of training on Saturday and Sunday showcasing our Nutritional Health and Physical Education curriculum. We loosened up the athletes in our opening game of ‘Scramble’ by having them run around the basketball court after reading out nutritional statements that may apply to their lives, if it is applicable to you, you have to run to find another ‘poly spot’ to stand on. But beware, if you’re last, you’ll have a consequence! Then we followed up with an exciting game of Capture the Nutrients, a play on capture the flag, to highlight different nutrient groups and the importance of creating balanced meals. This quick introduction to the nutrition curriculum shows how we use physical activity and games to teach health topics. As soon as the competitive nature poured from the athletes, we tested their knowledge (and speed) with our Sexual Health curriculum.
Temple University’s cheerleading, volleyball, rowing, softball, and fencing teams were no more. Instead, the teams set to compete in our Sexual Health practices were: The Protected, Curly 4’s, The Winners, and Team Abstinence. Through our famous relay race game of Fact or Nonsense, we tested the teams’ knowledge surrounding sexual health terminologies, HIV, and other STIs: introducing athletes to not only the facts about sexual health but how many myths there are in our communities and how important it is for youth to know where they can get factual information to make their own healthy choices around sex. Athletes were willing to dive, roll, flip, and even dance to get the correct answers and score points for their team.
Big Grassroots SHOUT OUT to our Philadelphia Program Coordinator, Treniyyah Anderson aka “Trigga Tre,” for leading this training, with support from Mackenzie Jones and an incredible team of Howard athletes that are helping to expand Grassroots to Philly, Niah Woods, Kevon Elzey, Ian Wheeler, Gerone Hamilton Jr., Alayah Hightower, and Andrea Fierve.
Overall, the training was informative and fun, but even more, we saw the beginning of a new community of athletes excited about impact-based service in the Philadelphia community. The culture and commitment of student-athletes working together for something bigger than themselves have proved powerful in DC over the last decade, and in just one weekend, we are seeing the bond and connection student-athletes are forming across two cities: this is one of the most exciting times in Grassroots history. We look forward to getting Grassroots Philly on the map and continuing to grow the Grassroots family.