Every single day, hundreds of kids become a little healthier, a little stronger, a little smarter and a little more confident through GOALS' soccer, nutrition and education programs. How can we narrow that down to just ten favorite moments?
We had to leave out quite a few things, such as our program manager graduating university and, though we were seriously tempted to make this a top eleven favorite moments list in order to include this hand-washing rap, in the end, we left out several truly inspiring moments, including this youth-led orphanage outreach day and preparing our students for university.
Like everything that we do at GOALS, this top ten list is a mix of serious impact, fun moments, and lots of young people making it all happen. Let's get to it. Here's our top ten favorite moments of 2015:
10. Playing (and winning!) a match at the national soccer stadium in Port au Prince!
Our girls were thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase their hard work at a tournament held in the Haitian capital. They were so proud and couldn't stop talking about it for weeks! So inspiring! Check out the pictures here.
9. Taking the time to review our impact
How, exactly, do GOALS' soccer programs come together to transform both individual lives and communities? In March, we took the time to review a year's worth of data to look at how participating in GOALS reduces teen pregnancy, builds health and shapes futures leaders, using 30 teen girls in the village of Terrasonson as our data sample. Check it out.
8. Releasing our beautiful infographic annual report!
We love bragging about the work our kids and coaches are doing every day, and it seems like each year our Annual Report is even more beautiful than ever. Want to know how many patients we treated at mobile clinics, how many soccer matches we played this year, or what percent of our teens know how to prevent pregnancy? It's all in our Annual Report! Missed it? It's here.
6. Recycling field trip!
In November, we took a field trip to visit a plastic bag recycling program to learn about what happens when we collect trash from our soccer fields and communities. We had a lot of fun (and learned a lot, too!). Check out the photos from our trip on our Facebook page here, or, to learn more about GOALS' environmental impact, including our community gardens, composting and recycling program, check out this article in GreenSportsBlog.
5. Adding a new little girls team
At the end of 2013, and throughout 2014, we made an effort to begin working with more younger girls. After lots of one-on-one outreach to parents and community meetings, we transformed two little boys teams (ages 8 - 14) to mixed-gender teams in 2014, and, with help from some super-star GOALS alumni players, we added our very first all little girls team in 2015. They even had their very first match against a team visiting from out of town, which ended in a tie, 0-0.
3. Constructing the GOALS Community Center!
After five years in operation, we've finally broken ground on a new community education center to call our own; a safe and dignified place to hold our literacy classes, mobile clinics, and ongoing education programs. Construction began in August and is on track to complete in March 2016. We can't wait! In fact, we've already begun planning a huge community party to celebrate the occasion!
If something THIS awesome only ranks as #3, can you imagine how incredible #2 and #1 are going to be? Are you excited? You should be. Keep reading....
2. Opening the GOALS bakery
The GOALS bakery opened up in April, providing locally produced food for our kids, creating four new jobs and providing job skills training opportunities for our older teens. In addition, several GOALS parents (and grandparents!) purchase the bread in bulk and resell it, topped with local peanut butter, to create a small income for themselves. Obviously, it was a highlight of 2015 for GOALS!
Click here to meet some of the people whose lives are impacted by the new GOALS bakery.
If that wasn't already enough awesome for you, are you ready for our number one absolute favorite moment of the year? Here it is...
1. This moment in literacy class
Our favorite moment of the entire year? This sweet moment between Peterson, 18, who is helping his mom, Withnie, with her literacy lessons before class. Peterson and Withnie both enrolled in GOALS literacy program this year, and successfully completed the program.
We had many amazing moments in our literacy class, whether it's seeing individual progress, the proud smiles of hard work and accomplishment, or just seeing it all come together on a daily basis, but this photo of Peterson and his mom captures so much, we had to share it as GOALS' #1 favorite moment of 2015.
Happy New Year!