Bears players Kyle Fuller and Lamarr Houston visited Jordan Elementary this week as part of the kick-off for “Becoming a Man” (BAM) – a dropout and violence prevention program for at-risk male students in grades 7-12. Sponsored by Youth Guidance, this program is active in numerous CPS schools and has been proven to reduce violence and increase academic achievement among participating students.
With help from supporters like the Bears, BAM will serve 2,000 CPS students in SY 14-15. The program has been active at Jordan Elementary for 13 years, making this CPS school an ideal backdrop for its annual launch event.
“”This partnership is a beautiful thing,” said Ashley Peterson, principal of Jordan. “It aligns perfectly with what we want to do here at Jordan – develop students socially, emotionally and academically.”
In his address to Jordan’s BAM participants, Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller encouraged the young men to learn from their BAM counselors the way he learned from his older brother, who was his greatest role model growing up.
“Listen to your BAM counselors, because they want to help you do what you need to do to be your best,” he said. “The most important thing I can tell you is that to be successful, you have to work hard, respect each other, and do the right things.”
Bears player Lamarr Houston conceded to the students that becoming a man is not easy.
“A diamond is made by applying a lot of pressure, but in the end it forms into something beautiful,” he said. “To be successful, you have to work hard at whatever it is you have a passion for.”
After addressing the group as a whole, the players conducted breakout sessions with BAM students to discuss their role models, their challenges growing up, and the paths they took to achieve success.
“I hope our students picked up on the overarching themes,” said Principal Peterson. “Everything wasn’t perfect for these athletes, but they stayed focused, and now they’re here. I hope this taught our students how important it is to work hard, be determined, and get back up when you fall.”
Besides recruiting players to act as role models for BAM, the Bears are supporting CPS’s football programs by expanding the Player Health and Safety Initiative introduced in 2013. Through this program, the team helps fund certified athletic trainers to be on the sidelines at the District’s varsity football games.
Last season, this support allowed trainers from Athletico to staff 154 CPS football games and treat nearly 500 student athletes. These trainers also provided follow-up screenings to CPS players and helped educate students, players and coaches on post-injury follow-up and return-to-play protocols. As the presence of athletic trainers has been proven to positively impact student health, this support from the Bears is a major contributor to keeping CPS athletes safe and productive both on and off the field.