Beginning at about the age of 8, I began to attend UKSD street soccer programs that were held in a small gym, with only a few people that would show up. I still continue to participate in the free of charge programs like street soccer, futsal, and beach soccer to this day. These programs have evolved from a small gym setting to huge crowds around a basketball court on a Tuesday night. These programs began to include lessons such as personal care, environmental care, and awareness about substance abuse. They were not only a place to play soccer and learn about important life lessons, but they are also a place that allowed me to create so many new friendships and relax and enjoy the game.
Aside from the free of charge programs, I have been lucky enough to travel to Dominica as well as several cities in the U.S. with UKSD. These trips were some of the best experiences of my life thus far. They allowed me to experience new cultures, diverse people, run soccer clinics for young kids, provide them with donated soccer and school supplies, and provide services to local community-based projects. On one of the trips to Dominica, I met a boy named Ian. We played a game, while giggling and squealing; nothing around us mattered -- not the fact that we were complete strangers or that there were apparent differences in our cognitive abilities. Ian had fetal alcohol syndrome along with a combination of various mental disorders, but he did not have the proper resources he needed to be cared for.
I had no idea, at the time, that I would make such strong connections with people and even meet someone who would inspire me to pursue my future career. Meeting Ian that day, inspired me to study special education. Through the various trips I have taken with UKSD, I have grown to no longer be a shy, timid, girl, but a confident young woman. Working with UKSD has become a huge part of the person that I am today. Going through all off the programs from street soccer to traveling to Dominica gave me the opportunity to work with communities all over, helping kids and sharing a love for soccer. I am so fortunate to have grown up with a program like this that gave me so many unique opportunities and experiences. Upon graduating high school, I am now lucky enough to be an advisory board member, continuing to share my love for the game as well as working with young people