Last Monday, SBU students and staff participated in the organization’s Third Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service is a day intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community”. This day is celebrated as a day in which we physically show our commitment to service.

In previous years, SBU Academy students volunteered onsite with various organizations across the city. However, in light of the pandemic, students and staff gathered on zoom this year to focus on changemaking in SBU’s local community. Students explored five major issues: Environmental Justice in the Bronx, School Equity, Black Lives Matter, Play Proud(a global initiative to make sports more inclusive for LGBTQ+ participants), and Bronx Budgeting (Participatory Budgeting). With a staff leader, each group learned about the importance and direct impact of their topic and took an action step. 

The Environmental Justice group wrote individual letters to local congressman, Ritchie Torres, expressing concerns about air pollution and its relation to high asthma levels in the South Bronx. 

The School Equity group learned about educational equity and wrote letters to local politicians asking for more resources and better class options at our schools.

The Play Proud group discussed the power of language and the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion, and recruited some of the youth participants to join the PlayProud Committee that includes SBU staff and volunteer coaches and tutors.

The Black Lives Matter group encouraged students to join youth led organizations like SBU’s activism club to get involved in their community. 

Lastly, The Bronx Budgeting group was prompted to look up participatory budgeting in their communities to see if they can join the process and influence the way funds are allocated in their community. 

SBU student-athletes engaged in meaningful conversations and took steps to make a positive impact in the greater South Bronx community. Each activity and conversation drew staff and students closer to Dr. King’s dream of a “Beloved Community”– a dream that the organization actively pursues not just on MLK Day, but through its ongoing programs both on and off the soccer field.