Alumna takes education beyond the classroom, introduces soccer to children in underserved community

ParkerWhile pursuing a master's degree in Ohio, recent College of Education graduate Sam Parker ('13) leads PLAY SOCCER Appalachia (PSA), an after school program that focuses on health, social and soccer skills for elementary age children in underserved Appalachia areas.

PSA is one of two U.S. branches associated with PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit International (PSNI), a network of low cost, volunteer-driven youth programs.

Parker helped start the PSA program at Coolville Elementary School in Coolville, Ohio, a town that previously had no youth soccer opportunities. She helped introduce not only the PSA program, but the game of soccer, to 40 girls and boys at the school.

"Having a P.E. background from UNT helped me update the PSA curriculum so that it could meet all of the organization's objectives," she said. "I was also familiar with working with children in the gym setting – teaching them material while maintaining behavior and making it interesting."

A typical afternoon at the program includes games designed to integrate soccer, educational and social objectives through play and discussion. "One of the kids' favorite games was Hungry-Hungry-Hippo, which I used to teach the students about proper hydration," said Parker. "I learned that game during my student teaching at UNT and adapted it for our PSA curriculum."

In addition to working with the Coolville students after school each week, Parker is helping revise the year-long Africa Curriculum into a 12-week program that fits the needs of U.S. students.

Parker graduated with her B.S. in Kinesiology with an All-level Physical Education Teacher Certification and is currently attending the University of Ohio.

"Working with PSA allowed me to take my education background and knowledge into another aspect of life, outside the typical classroom setting," she said. "The best part about leading PSA is being able to teach underprivileged children about healthy living through the game I love and helping them escape from their situation for a little bit of time to just have fun."