At Edgewood, we believe a holistic approach to behavioral health involves both alternative therapies, as well as traditional, talk therapies. The Edgewood Sports and Recreation Program was created in 2005 to implement alternative therapy based on the proven research that physical activity and structured competition can help children improve their self-esteem and self-confidence, and give them the emotional tools to deal with the victory and defeat common in the world of sports.
The goal of the Sports and Recreation Program is to raise the self-awareness and self-esteem of high needs youth through athleticism, sportsmanship, teamwork, and participation. Most of the children at Edgewood are so strongly influenced by histories of trauma such as abuse, poverty, neglect, and emotional and mental health conditions that it is necessary for them to come to a safe and healthy environment where they can receive individualized care.
Edgewood Eagles team members are drawn from our non-public school of about 60 students. Participation in the Eagles is open to both girls and boys, from grades 6 to 12. Students are able to play the entire year, beginning with soccer in August and September, flag football from October to December, basketball from January to April, and softball from May to June.
The Eagles compete in the Non-Public Schools Sports League with 10 other schools. All of the schools serve youth with behavioral health issues, so the players face similar challenges. Games are played at a neighboring park, a nearby rented gym, or in the East Bay.
Volunteerism and Philanthropy
An additional component of the program is teaching the youth the value of volunteerism and philanthropy. Created in 2009, the annual Hoops for Hope event raises funds through the Edgewood Eagles basketball team with players shooting lay-ups in succession. Each year, the team designates a beneficiary and has supported causes that have included Haiti hurricane relief efforts, the San Francisco Food Bank and the One World Futbol Project. The Eagles’ efforts have also supported Edgewood’s own programs, with funds purchasing new microscopes for science classes and creating an academic scholarship for high-achieving students. Each awardee also donated to a charity of their choice. Volunteer activities have included beach cleanups, packaging food at the San Francisco Food Bank, and planting native plants in the Presidio.
Our Sports and Recreation Program promotes inclusion and positive reinforcement. Our PE Coordinator sets realistic goals for the youth and allows them to work at their own pace. He teaches them to be aware of their feelings as they challenge themselves, and gain a better understanding of who they are through the process. The success of this program was documented in the PE Coordinator’s Masters thesis, “How Participating on a Sports Team helps the Psychosocial Development of Behavior Needs Students”. The results were all positive and were done while observing Edgewood Eagles players and students.
What guides our work is our belief in the resiliency of every child we serve and our values of engaging families, developing community, generating hope and embracing diversity. We are proud not just of our impact on 7,000 children and families every year, but also of our efforts to continuously improve outcomes more broadly through our research and training programs of the Edgewood Institute, a campus based research department providing nation-wide influence to other behavioral health agencies.
The Sports and Recreation Program and the Non-Public School Sports League build on our tradition, established in 1851, of transforming the lives of children and families and restoring hope in a better future.