[The following was submitted to GSWNY from Danielle’s mother and troop leader Elizabeth Bellis.]
Danielle Bellis loves soccer. She started playing in the local league’s in-house program when she was five years old. She has since played on the league’s travel team, and the school’s modified, junior varsity, and now varsity teams. She worked as a referee for the league’s in-house program and volunteered as a coach for an ad-hoc preschool program they were considering. Then when Dani decided to go for her Girl Scout Gold Award, which requires completing a sustainable community service project, something soccer-related seemed like a logical choice.
The league president suggested she create an official preschool soccer program that they would maintain in the future and offer free. Dani jumped at the idea of creating a soccer program for the community. She could share her love of soccer while starting young kids on the road to a healthy lifestyle of physical activity, self-confidence, and team work. As she considered the benefits the program could provide the community, she realized her program could benefit more than just the preschool kids.
This was also an opportunity to get older kids involved as coaches and encourage them to start volunteering in their community. She could create a coaching packet to make it easy to coach even without any soccer experience.
This past spring Danielle did just that. She created a teen-led and coached soccer program for preschool age kids and called it “First Kicks.” She put together a coaching binder of activities and games, as well as a few coaching tips. She registered 60 preschool participants and recruited nine teenage coaches beside herself. She ran a six-week program with two 45 minute sessions on Saturdays, one for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds.
At the end of the season, Danielle provided the league with all the materials it needs to continue the free program including an annual schedule and budget, advertising materials, a list of contacts, and the coaching binders.
Danielle completed the requirements of the community service project and earned her gold award. She will graduate this spring and plans to continue volunteering for the First Kicks program.