- Gabriel Gallego
Mentoring Youth of Color for the Benefit of Mind, Body, and Soul: The Opportunity of Sole Train
March of this year sent shockwaves throughout the country; the healthcare system became overwhelmed; school ended in-person classes; massive amounts of people lost their jobs, and many became ill. Americans who had some level of stability now felt the discomfort that comes with uncertainty--the overwhelming anxiety of not knowing what could happen next. Americans coping with systemic racism and classism began dealing with an extremely heightened version of anxiety, stress and fear already too-long-endured.
In September, my work at SEED Impact led me to tune-in on a discussion with staff members of Sole Train, a community-building and mentoring program of Trinity Boston Connects.
Many students of color living in low-income communities are not given the opportunity to know the positive effects of structured physical activity. Programs like Sole Train are truly essential, especially since health affects every facet of daily life.
I approached this meeting with Sole Train wondering how a running program could manage the limitations imposed by COVID-19, when all of us are living with stress and trauma?
I learned that Sole Train had quickly adapted to the abrupt change by having its volunteers (“Old Soles,” mainly teachers) hold virtual workout sessions, using their creativity to make it a fun and collaborative experience for students (“Young Soles”).
I find this beautiful, and a perfect example of our ability to adapt as human beings; especially the fact that teachers, who are under a great deal of stress right now, are using their time to uplift and spread the gift of physical exercise to youth.
When many of us are spending more time inside, the holistic approach of Sole Train has never been more urgently needed. You may wish to sign up for the upcoming Sole Train 5k.
The optimism from Sole Train is all there. While the virtual setting is not ideal for physical activity--nor for spending time with others to reflect on feelings and thoughts--their energy is sparking new ideas and guiding many to maneuver through new pathways of action. Not only have they shifted gears to virtual meetings, but they have used their newsletter to spread public health and COVID-19 information to the entire community and to encourage community engagement in political action. They are also reaching out to Boston-area leaders with whom youth can relate to lead the virtual workout sessions.
It was refreshing to hear the affirmative thinking from Sole Train and inspiring to see how they are creatively transforming this hard experience into opportunities to have a larger and deeper impact, keeping spirits and energy uplifted.
The days when I am inside for too long, away from others are the days when I am most agitated, and uneasy.
Gabriel Gallego, age 18, began volunteering at SEED Impact after graduating high school. He sits in on meetings with SEED clients as they reflect on their vision, obstacles, progression, and intended outcomes. Through these meetings Gabriel has been opened to a new world of non-profit organizations and their deeply profound goals and impacts, learning about a variety of important social causes of our time.