It’s 10:45 a.m. and 88 degrees outside. The sun is blazing, but the children are full of bliss as they race across the field. From the sidelines, all anyone can see is pure happiness on the faces of children. Summer is officially in full effect.
“This is more than just a soccer camp,” said Sabrina Sariles, Family Hope Center community coordinator. “This is an opportunity for these children to look beyond their current living situations, build their confidence and learn a new skill.”
Of the 4,000 school children in this community, 93 percent are economically disadvantaged.
The purpose for this camp is to give the families at Bachman Lake an opportunity to step away from their apartments for a week, have a safe environment to play soccer and build a community between them and the Family Hope Center.
“It brings me so much joy to see the children play together because I grew up in the same area they live in now, but I never had this opportunity,” Sabrina said. “This is something they can be proud of and say to themselves, ‘I did this!’”
If it weren’t for this camp, Sabrina explained, these children would be at home isolated in their apartments. Because of the heavy crime rate in their area, it’s not safe for them to play outside. There are even city rules preventing families from being outside past a certain time due to gang violence.
Not only do the children benefit from this camp, but the parents play a role as well. A parent prayer support group from the Family Hope Center came to the camp to hold a small Bible study with the parents.
“The parents get to develop a relationship of trust with the Buckner community,” Sabrina said. “This camp gives the parents an outlet on their situations too. They have trusted us enough to have a Bible study with them and pray with them. Through this Bible study, some of the parents have come to know Christ and realize there is hope in their financial situations.”
Nelsi Gueria, one of many moms sitting on the sidelines to watch their children play soccer, expresses her gratitude for this opportunity.
“This camp helps my daughter get active and interact with other kids,” she said. “I even get the chance to leave the house and talk to other moms. I’m very thankful this camp is free. A free sports camp like this is hard to come by.”
The learning experience for the families of the Bachman Lake community is one the biggest benefits of the camp.
“This camp builds a sense of community among the children and helps them forget about their language barriers,” said Ricardo Brambila, Family Hope Center director. “They are exposed to something new and helps them feel confident.”
“Unity, community, and hope … that’s the whole purpose behind this soccer camp,” Sabrina added.
Written by Odufa Atsegbua, a summer intern with Buckner Communications.