Photo courtesy of the South Country Central School District
The South Country Central School District inaugurated a new social and emotional learning program, Second Step, that aims to create lasting bonds between Bellport High School student-athletes and third graders in the district’s elementary schools.
The program kicked off at Kreamer Street Elementary School on Sept. 23, where 19 Bellport High School football players and girls varsity soccer team members visited third graders for a full day of bonding and learning. Serving as role models, athletes shadowed the third graders and supported them in all aspects of their day, from lessons to assisting with academics and accompanying them to lunch.
Prior to the visit, all the student-athletes were trained in social and emotional learning techniques.
“Building relationships and supporting social-emotional learning is so important in the development of young students, and we felt we can help support both with this initiative,” said restorative practices facilitator Kai Watkins, who spearheaded the program along with Patrick Hayes, athletic director. He added, “The younger students look up to the seniors and the senior athletes, and the positive messages they send to the third graders will hopefully leave a lasting impact.”
The program will continue during the winter and spring sports seasons when athletes will take turns visiting third graders at Brookhaven and Verne W. Critz elementary schools.