Every so often, we get a story from the field that especially moves us because it so beautifully demonstrates how one individual can make such a genuine, meaningful difference in such a simple way. Coach Bari in Baltimore has changed the life of a child simply because she took the time to learn his name, paid him a deserved compliment and got him in the game. Here’s her story, her words…
… While walking down the blue hallway in the school, I hear the yells of a nearby teacher, “Coach Bari, you have got to get over here right now!!” My heart starts racing… I have no idea what the problem is. When I get to the 2nd grade classroom, the teacher steps out of her classroom and closes her door. I notice what look like tears in her eyes, and my heart is beating so hard it feels as if my heart is beating out of my chest.
She begins to speak at a rapid speed, “Coach, I was reading my class a story called The Best Week Ever and when I finished the book I asked my class what the best day they ever had was. Most kids talked about getting toys and not going to school but Moni (Ramone) hesitated and then replied ‘The best day of my entire life was when Coach Bari learned my name and told me that when I waved and said hi I make her day!’”
Tears fill my eyes and I thank the teacher for sharing and walk away.
Moni is not your typical student. He is brilliantly smart and funny and never does he misbehave. Moni also has many different health issues; he is considered morbidly obese, has asthma (there are some days when he needs his inhaler once every few hours), and he is borderline diabetic. However, Moni is more active now than ever before.
I learned from teachers that prior to this year Moni never played. He would sit out of gym and would help the teacher instead of playing during free time. Now Moni is running around playing tag, he is jumping rope, he is kicking the soccer ball, and playing fake-out football. He is active in PE and at recess and knows that he can do what others can.
Moni’s health has improved this year — he is losing weight and his mother and babysitter have both told me that the doctor is impressed by his health changes. Playworks and some time getting to know Moni’s name have made such an impact on this child’s life. I am lucky to know Moni and luckier to work for an organization that provides for experiences such as this!