While squash and education are at the core of our work here at StreetSquash, our Social Work Department plays a crucial role in shaping and supporting our participants, too.
In 2013, we launched a Social Work Department to expand the services provided to our participants, and to create stronger bonds with our students, their families, and their communities. Since then, our Social Work Department has continued to grow, continuously seeking out new strategies and opportunities to make a positive impact in our students’ lives.
Currently, our social work team consists of Senior Director of Social Work, Sasha Diamond-Lenow, Social Worker, Lauren Osoria, and two Master of Social Work interns from Fordham University. With the added support, the department has been able to facilitate additive programming such as groups and clubs, which our participants can engage in outside of their work in the classroom and on the court.
Check out some of the meaningful work our Social Work department has been up to.
On the student front, our Social Work Department has been busy hosting Workshop Weeks for middle schoolers and high schoolers. In addition to regular individual and group counseling sessions, Workshop Weeks offer participants more time and space to explore topics of interest, learn soft skills, and improve their overall social-emotional wellness.
StreetSquash students are required to participate in this series of health and wellness workshops as part of their regular programming. Workshop topics cover important areas like sexual health, substance abuse, personal values, healthy stress management, and more. These workshops are designed to enrich each StreetSquasher’s experience in the program and ensure our students are supported not just for academic and athletic success, but also long-term personal wellbeing.
Family Leadership Board
Originally called the Parent Board, our Family Leadership Board (FLB) offers caregivers an additional avenue to engage with the program, share and gather feedback, seek out additional family support, and more. In 2019, nearly 40 different caregivers attend monthly FLB meeting, and we’re excited to build upon that momentum this year.
Each month, our Social Work Department (with support from other StreetSquash staff) hosts a workshop for caregivers. These events coincide with monthly FLB Executive Board meetings and offer caregivers regular opportunities to flex their creative muscles and learn new skills. Last month, we invited caregivers to create vision boards for 2020 and do some goal setting.
While fun at heart, FLB events first and foremost set the goal of making StreetSquash not just a space for students, but also for family members. In addition to monthly workshops, the Social Work Department leads weekly Parent Journey groups – a 12 week-long program that offers caregivers additional guided resources on issues important to them.
Pop Up/Community Squash Event
On Saturday, December 21st, the Social Work Department and FLB collaborated with Alumna Liz Gatling, Class of 2010, and volunteer Randee Johnson (founder of MelaHengua) to organize and host the Warm Up. The event was a community pop-up event that gathered caretakers, alumni, local entrepreneurs, and other community members at the SL Green StreetSquash Center for an afternoon of fun, shopping, and education. Events like these are designed to both support greater caregiver engagement, and to further our larger community engagement initiatives.
At the Warm Up, attendees could participate in open squash, learn more about the StreetSquash program, build relationships with other StreetSquash parents, and support local business owners while checking off those last holiday shopping to-dos. Vendors included local Harlem businesses and even some StreetSquash caregivers, who sold everything from hand-made clothing and jewelry to beauty products and tasty baked goods.
The Warm Up was a major success and would not have been possible without the support of our FLB executive board, staff, and students who helped clean up once the event was over. We are already looking forward to our next community event – stay tuned for details.
This is just a taste of the amazing work or Social Work Department makes possible day in and day out. We cannot wait to see what they have in store for the rest of this year!