Up2Us Sport Volunteers Collaborate with Woodcraft Rangers on Oak Street Elementary Makeover

Earlier this spring, Up2Us Sports partnered up with Woodcraft Rangers on a Community Beautification Project at Oak Street Elementary School in Inglewood, California. Approximately 60 volunteers (including roughly 40 current Up2Us Coaches from the Southern California area) took part in the event and provided the school with a little TLC. Volunteers were greeted started rolling in to the school at 9:00am and were greeted with coffee and bagels at check-in. In true Up2Us Sports fashion, games of foursquare were played by volunteers during the check-in period as a way to reconnect and have fun.


Once the check-in process came to a close, the volunteers gathered to hear the objectives for the day and were thanked for their participation by the event’s organizers. Various teams were created to sand and paint doors, repaint basketball courts, paint murals, and paint benches and a large wall in the playground area. Each team hit the ground running and dove right into each of their tasks accompanied by music booming down the halls played on Bluetooth speakers to keep everyone engaged.

As the afternoon approached, the school had undergone a substantial transformation. Fresh coats of paint adorned an entire wing of classroom doors while the basketball courts displayed a revitalized look. The benches and wall also no longer looked worn and appeared to have a second lease on life with a new navy blue tint. Logos of each Los Angeles area professional sports team were plastered on the classroom walls facing the basketball courts. These logos are significant given that many young people in the Southern California idolize many of the teams represented on the wall and due to the fact that sports are at the heart of the work that Up2Us Sports does in the community.


After a brief cleanup process, volunteers were treated to a pizza party where they got to share some laughs and reflect on the day’s work. Oak Street Elementary principal Richard Barter was blown away at the efforts of volunteers. “It was a massive crew and so well organized.” Barter gave high praise for the positive attitude each volunteer displayed and commended them for their commitment to enhancing the image of the school. When Barter was asked what he thought students would enjoy most upon their return from Spring break he responded without hesitation, “The basketball courts; they are absolutely beautiful.”

It’s always great to show up for the Up2Us Sports organization because everyone really just comes together and puts their best attitude forward and it’s great to all work toward one cause
— Coach Marysol Flores

Once lunch had wrapped, volunteers came together in the playground area to take in the murals and share some high fives before calling it a day. Up2Us Coach Marysol Flores shared her thoughts on what motivated her to participate in the project. “It’s always great to show up for the Up2Us Sports organization because everyone really just comes together and puts their best attitude forward and it’s great to all work toward one cause,” she explained. Many other coaches echoed Flores’ sentiment and genuinely seemed pleased to reconnect with some familiar faces from the Up2Us Sports family while having a positive impact on their community.

Chicago Service Day


On May 3rd, Up2Us teamed up  with the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Housing Authority and the White Sox Volunteer Corps for a community wellness day at Wentworth Gardens. The day was designed to encourage health, wellness and fitness, and included multiple stations designed and activated by our Chicago coaching corp. Chicago-Blog.Cover

The Chicago White Sox not only sent awesome volunteers to help with registration and food service for the day but South Paw, the team mascot, joined to take pictures and toss some pitches at the baseball station.  Every person that attended the event and participated in different stations also received a complimentary voucher to an upcoming White Sox game.  We had nearly 300 participants throughout the event day and were able to spread health and wellness and make some incredible new partners.

A special thanks to Alderman Pat Dowell, The Athena Dental Group, Progressive Baptist Church, UIC-Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion, UIC-YWLCS Health & Wellness Center, E&ES (a partner of the Chicago Housing Authority), and Beggars Pizza who were all important partners in making the day a success.

"The Up2Us Field Day is a great example of how neighbors and community based organizations can work together to create safe and healthy spaces for everyone to enjoy.  I am pleased to be a part of this event because it celebrates the wonderful families that make up this community,” said Alderman Pat Dowell.



Chicago-blog3 2



Dear Mrs. Obama, I would like to propose a new slogan for your second term.

You have done a lot through “Let’s Move” in raising awareness about the epidemic of childhood obesity and its dangers to the health of the next generation of Americans.  But, I think we need to focus even more on the root causes of the obesity epidemic.  The fact that kids don’t move is in fact the symptom of a larger problem.  That's why I am recommending you change the logo to “Let's Mind.”

In the last four years, I've been honored to be an AmeriCorps recipient and to be responsible for placing nearly 1000 young adults as AmeriCorps coach-mentors in underserved communities across this country. The purpose of our Coach Across America program is to get kids physically active, and we measure our impact based on how many kids we inspire to exercise regularly through sports.

But the one thing I've learned from these coaches is that before we can get to the physical health of our children, we really need to address their mental health. The obesity epidemic is far worse in communities where kids are experiencing tremendous amounts of duress because of poverty. Many of these children do not have positive relationships with other children or with caring adults who can inspire them to make the kind of life changes that would lead to their better health.  So while the purpose of our program is to promote physical health, we also spend much of our time training our coach-mentors on mental health and addressing the trauma that so many urban youth experience in their neighborhoods.  Yes, we focus on their mind.

Breaking through the mindset of children who are often stressed, socially isolated or distrusting of adults is the first step to inspiring change in their lives.  Once this trust is established, our coaches can then influence our kids to regularly exercise (and to regularly attend school too!).   In a nutshell, these coaches create an atmosphere where the mental changes happen---the physical changes then follow.

“Let’s Mind” means something else too.

Many children grow up in atmospheres where they do not think adults “mind” about them.  They may come from homes that are dysfunctional or lack parental authority, or attend overcrowded schools where they see their teachers and other authority figures as not caring.   Consequently, they internalize this and learn not to care about themselves or others.  This contributes to our obesity epidemic and it also leads to our youth violence epidemic in which children do not value life.

We train our coaches to show kids that they “mind” about them. This is a powerful lesson for working with all children, even those who at first seem the most hardened.  After all, our coaches can tell you better than me: with a little minding all children are capable of amazing things….like regular exercise, doing well in school, and contributing to their communities.

So I say let's capitalize on what you started in the first term by getting at the root issue that isolates children from the kinds of activities that get them moving.

Let's Mind.


Paul Caccamo Executive Director