By Sam Steinman
Upon arriving in Potrero I was immediately struck by the good manners and genuine politeness exhibited by the students of Lacrosse the Nations (LtN) and Abriendo Mentes (AM). Every student, without fail, will always reply, “I am fine, thank you,” after they are asked how they are, and then add, “and you?” At first glance this may seem like an inconsequential repetition of basic vocabulary. It isn’t. Beyond English language skills, a pillar of both organizations, it became immediately evident to me that the youth of Potrero are learning to be courteous and respectful.
Whether running around the lacrosse field or dancing during Fun Friday, the students of Potrero are constantly learning and reinforcing not only lessons of intellectual and physical education, but a variety of life skills that include motivation, discipline, responsibility, confidence, social skills, self-esteem, and time allocation. The educational benefits of LtN and AM are not confined to the field or to the classroom; rather, they permeate the kids’ daily lives. The partnership between LtN and AM empowers the residents of Potrero to make intelligent and healthy decisions, cultivating enrichment and fostering success.
Abriendo Mentes works to enhance educational opportunities and open minds through four primary programs: youth development, adult education, women’s empowerment, and the technology center. Lacrosse the Nations also offers an essential fifth program: physical education. The public schools do not provide any form of physical education, which further underlines the significance of Lacrosse the Nations in the community of Potrero. Aware of that reality, Abriendo Mentes has provided Lacrosse the Nations with a structured and productive academic environment in which to operate. Accordingly, the partnership has been an ideal meshing of goals, ambition, and need.
The acronym P.E. has at times been redefined as “Powerful Education” in order to stress the proven academic, social, and emotional benefits that physical education can provide to students. To further emphasize the ability of education to empower students, a slightly more apt description of the partnership between Lacrosse the Nations and Abriendo Mentes could be termed (if such a term were to exist) empowerful education. The LtN and AM partnership is successful not only because of the shared goal of empowering local residents, but also because the contributions of each organization constantly reinforce and build upon the success of the other, creating a symbiotic relationship characterized by mutually assured success. The result is truly empowerful.
Sam is the Programs and Activities Coordinator for Lacrosse the Nations Costa Rica and is also a general volunteer for Abriendo Mentes.