Connect With Kids Champions liven up County Board meeting
On Tuesday, February 26, the County Board welcomed a large crowd of young people as they recognized two Connect With Kids Champions.
Mo Tayari, a coach with Arlington Soccer Association’s (ASA) Travel Soccer program, was accompanied by an entire team (and many parents). He was nominated by Kirk and Danielle Leach for his personable, kind, but firm approach to coaching. Gerardo Merino, a volunteer with the Buckingham Youth Brigade (BYB), a youth leadership program for young people in the Buckingham neighborhood, brought his own cheering squad – 12 youth members of the group.
Alyssa Duda, Director of BYB, nominated Gerardo for his warmth, friendly nature, and commitment to the youth. Kirk Leach presented to the County Board on behalf of Coach Mo. Kirk, who serves as Vice Chair of the Arlington Soccer Association’s Board of Directors, spoke highly of Mo and how he fosters a love of the game among his players. Every day he goes above and beyond his job description, talking to kids who might be struggling, encouraging them and listening to them.
Kirk shared a quote from one of Coach Mo’s players: “You just want to play and do your best for him. He is tough, but cares about you and your love for the game. I can go to him any time. He gets it.” He then added his own observation, noting that “the way he uses soccer to connect with kids is truly a gift. “ Coach Mo was cheered by a 16 young soccer players – proudly wearing their team jerseys, along with a number of very happy parents.
Upon receiving his award, he shared that he was very proud of this award, but most proud and grateful to be a part of Arlington Soccer Association for “giving me an opportunity to be a part of these kids’ lives”. William Perez, a freshman at Washington-Lee High School, presented to the County Board on behalf of Gerardo. He spoke of how fun, cool, and entertaining Gerardo is and how he has the ability to make people feel special. “For newer BYB members,” William said, “most remember how welcome he made them feel, the first time they went. From that moment, he made them feel like they had a place where they belonged.”
His ability to make everyone in the group feel important and special helps to keep the youth members of BYB coming back. He clearly connects easily with kids, in spite of asking them “for the millionth time” to follow him on Twitter, Perez said. Gerardo was grateful for the award, but he was even more grateful for the opportunity to be a part of BYB. As he puts it, “it feels like it is a family.” Anne Malleck and Bob Bigney were recognized last month for their activities to Connect with Kids. Nominate someone today!