APRIL 2021 Newsletter

2020 AT A GLANCE: A Message To Our Community

Following the gruesome murder of George Floyd, the call to action was clear for The Chill Foundation, “we must help our community heal.” We manufactured and distributed masks to peaceful protesters throughout the initial days of the incident. In reaction to riots, our organization donated food items to Sandburg Middle School in South Minneapolis, due to the grocery stores being looted, damaged and destroyed. In North Minneapolis, the community’s youth found themselves with unique needs following the rioting and The Chill Foundation answered the call by providing personal items to the McKinley Center.

Being deeply impacted by the Floyd murder and its aftermath, The Chill Foundation has joined with other members of the community in a leadership council to plan the next steps in healing the city’s damaged and destroyed structures. The Chill Foundation will help rebuild. In addition, members of The Chill Foundation paid respects to the Floyd family, accompanied by the family of Emmett Till at Floyd’s funeral.

The organization’s commitment to healing this community following this crime against humanity, has been impactful and in real time from its initial outburst. We have reached out to relationships forged with others following the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, to draw national attention to local issues as proxy for those nationally who want to provide aid.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

On August 18, 2020, our Minnesota Chill Basketball youth participated in the Minneapolis “I Built This!” event, in partnership with Target Corporation and Construct Reach.

There was an industry roundtable held by exclusive invitations of local and national brands, general contractors, developers, and laborer’s unions. Following the town-hall platform, participants of the roundtable were given a chance to reflect and discuss their take-aways from the community, and how it could help shape the future of construction and its accessibility for under-represented minorities.

Students broke into small groups per CDC guidelines and each group was given a different station located in and around the store/job site. Stations included electrical, flooring, mechanical, carpentry, landscaping, virtual reality experience, and more. At each station, students received a brief presentation from experts in the construction industry and learned about career journeys for both field and corporate representatives. All groups rotated until completing hands-on tasks at every station.

Minnesota Chill Foundation believes in helping other nonprofit organizations achieve their mission. On October 30th, 2020 the Chill Foundation board members and friends joined a community service event for the NdCAD organization.

The Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD) is a family education center based in St. Paul, Minnesota. They serve children, families, and communities throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, offering a variety of literacy and cultural enrichment programs and services for children, youth, and adults.

The Chill Foundation founder company, Programming Solutions Inc., was able to help NdCAD purchase laptops for them to distribute to the families within their programs. Thank you, Christian Johnson, for being instrumental in acquiring the laptops and additional software needed for them. The board member of the Chill Foundation decided to install the software on the laptops, which allowed us to purchase additional laptops for NdCAD. We believe that it is important for like-minded organizations to support each other. We all have the same common goal at the end of the day, of ensuring that our children of color have the tools that they need to be successful.

We would like to thank Executive Director Gevonee Ford, for giving us the opportunity to partner with them on this great endeavor.

CHILL BASKETBALL

The Minnesota Chill Basketball program had a successful summer. We had 20 players in the program, an 8th grade top team and a 9th grade elite team, competing in the Prep Hoops Circuit. In addition to playing in Minnesota, we were able to travel to Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

The 9th grade team went 24-4 this season and we had 3 players that were recognized locally for their great talent and skills. Those players were:

Khalif Bettis of Burnsville
Ariyon Reuben of Hopkins
Molley Komara of Park Center

The team was truly fun to watch play and grow into their roles on the court. They achieved their goal of gaining interest as many colleges from Division 1, 2 and 3 followed them throughout the summer.

The 8th grade team was 500 this season going 13-13. This team had many new first year players with us. The 500 season does not speak to the heart and determination of this team. Several of the games were close by 2 or 3 points. Free throws can make or break a game! The players on this team improved and developed each and every week. They were able to compete at the highest level of competition throughout the summer. Several players that stood out were:

Fitz Freeman of Park Center
Kyle Jorgenson of Washburn
Liam Farniok of Minneapolis Southwest

Because of Covid-19, there were many changes for the tournaments. Starting with the check-in process, the players had to answer questions and check their temperatures. Each player had to wear a mask as they entered the building. No outside basketballs were allowed in the gyms. All playing courts, areas and equipment were sanitized prior to every game and during half time. Once the games were over, everyone had to leave immediately. There was a 30-minute break between each game so that everything could be sanitized again. Each team was only allowed to have 10 people inside to watch. All of the games could be viewed online through a basketball streaming service, for a fee.

Prior to opening the gyms, Chill Basketball players would practice in parks in the Brooklyn Park area and would do strength and conditioning workouts outside of the MLK Center in St. Paul. We made sure that we followed the guidelines set by the CDC.

We were fortunate to have Coach Caples’ mother make masks for each player prior to the seasons. Each player had two different masks to go with their uniforms for games and one mask for practices.

CHILL FITNESS FOR KIDS

In February of 2020, we started our Chill Fitness for Kids (CFFK) program at Martin Luther King Center in St. Paul. We were able to serve 30 youth in a six-week program prior to the closures due to Covid.

CFFK ran four days a week: Monday and Wednesday focused on fitness, while Tuesday and Thursday were for health/nutrition. The program is led by a licensed dietitian with more than 30 years of experience working in hospital settings. Her last position was Director at Mount Saint in St. Louis Park.

During the first week of the program, we went over the importance of washing out hands. We made up a song with the students set to the tune of “Happy Birthday,” which was designed to demonstrate the length of time it should take and the right technique to use to wash hands. Students participated in an exercise showing how many things they touch in a given day with germs on them. This was an eye opener for the children, and they were surprised about the outcome. The goal was to get them to think about what they do with their hands. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, being just before the country was told about the importance of washing your hands to stop the spread of the virus.

In addition to hand washing, students were also introduced to vitamin A and the benefits of eating food items that have it in them. The children were engaged and intrigued by the benefits of eye health. Part of our health snack that day were carrot sticks with ranch dressing.

Each week a different vitamin was covered and featured in the day’s healthy snack.
Our curriculum for the nutrition program included:

  • Check-in (Q&A) Pre-Assessment
  • Journaling reviewed (rewarded with stickers)
  • Lecture/Presentation (interactive)
  • Demonstrations
  • Activities/Games (Vitamin Bingo/Alphabet Nutrition, etc.)
  • Program Evaluation (Q&A) Post Assessment

Here are some other topics that we introduced during our short six-week time:

  • Importance of building a healthy plate with fruit and vegetables
  • Healthy eating using food guides
  • Healthy eating on the run
  • Healthy eating on a budget
  • Healthy eating when snacking
  • Healthy eating for a healthy weight

 

Due to Covid-19, a presentative from the Department of Health came in to speak with the children concerning the importance of not vaping in our youth community. A presentation was given with information gathered from sources such as Minnesota for A Smoke-Free Generation, DoSomething.org, a 2019 article by Tim Pugmire titled “Minnesota lawmakers say they’re ready to take on vaping,” and an article titled “Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation Urges Minnesota to Follow Massachusetts’s Lead on Flavored Tobacco.” Also discussed were the dangers of drinking hand sanitizer, as there were reports of that occurring and we felt it prudent to advise our children of the peril.

The children were given journals to use so that we could monitor what they were eating along with keeping track of the physical activities that they were doing outside of class.

The other days were focused on our fitness program with the slogan “Get Moving – Keep Moving,” to make physical activity part of the children’s day. The first two days of this program, we did testing using the National Health Education standards from CDC Healthy Schools as a baseline to compare future results. Students did activities like sit-ups, push-ups, jumping rope, and running. We tested them every Monday to see their progress and used team-building exercises to show the importance of support and encouragement. We were changing their mental motivation from “I can’t do that” to “yes I can.” We were able to show them that exercise can be fun. Some of them lost weight and all of them improved with testing.

Youth participated in group physical activities to help them burn off energy, get their heart rate up and develop team-building skills. Activities included basketball, track, soccer, tennis, football and aerobics.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed that we had to stop our program, since things were going so well. We received a lot of positive feedback from parents; there were many days that we would have a parent or two just stop in to watch.

While we were unable to work with the students due to the shutdown, we kept in touch by sending them an activity kit each week containing fun, age-appropriate worksheets and lessons for families to complete together as a reminder to stay active while at home.

We were fortunate to have one of our fitness instructors develop a YouTube exercise program where the kids could exercise anytime online. It was a great success; there were 257 hits on YouTube videos. We want to continue this program, but are looking for ways to upgrade the equipment, since right now we are using a cell phone to record.

Fortunately, we were also able to start our in-person program again at the Hallie Q Brown Community Center this summer, as they were labelled an essential business. There were 14 students who were able to go through the fitness program.

One of the skills that we taught the students, which has come in handy due to these difficult times, is meditation. It can be used as a self-calming skill when they are feeling stressed and we as adults need to realize that children do feel stress. The other skill that we have told them to do is blowing bubbles, which helps with deep breathing from the lungs and has a calming effect.

OUR PROGRAMMING IS GROWING!

We are planning to launch the Minnesota Chill Academy! This program is designed to take youth participants through a 9-month after-school program. We are committed to creating a physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially safe learning and development environment for ALL participants. Our focus is to empower youth (referred to as “scholars”) in areas of math, reading, money management, social/emotional and life skills. Please consider donating to our foundation to support the growth of this program and youth’s access to enrichment.

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