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Interview with Child Psychologist; Sports and the Effect on One’s Psyche

This is a sample of a full article written for MATTER Magazine (PEA). This section is written by Natalie Jebraili based on an interview conducted with Dr. Smeir.

It is evident that feedback has powerful effects on the growth of the mind, but what about one’s psychology specifically? In simple terms, psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, exploring how individuals think, react, and feel both consciously and subconsciously. One’s psyche can be impacted by both positive and negative events. Individuals are able to store memories of these events, potentially influencing their behavior in the future. These influential events can be very simplethe most simple of things, but have an outstanding effect. For example, sports and other extracurricular general activitiesy are known to have substantial mental and physical effects, and they are sometimes prescribed to people who faced trauma in their past. 

While it is true that athletics are mentally taxing and can often become very toxic, this usually stems from external factors, such as the. For example, pressure on an individual to perform rather than the celebration of effort, accomplishment, and development. This can be self- placed pressure, or it can come from parents, coaches, or teammates. Regardless, this harmharmfulness  originates from external aspects unrelated to the actions of directly playing a sport. An interview with M.D. Stephanie Mumford Smeir explores the relationship between sports and psychology, emphasizing their ability to positively transform the psyche of traumatized children. 

First of all, Smeir wanted to highlight the fact that psychology varies for everyone and “like an onion, it has many, many layers” (Smeir, personal communication, July 3, 2023). She then spoke about the almost universal effects of sports and activity on anyone’s life. For example, exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are hormones released to reduce stress or pain. Once they attach to receptors in your brain, dopamine is released which provides feelings of happiness and pleasure. Sports also provide a space for people who enjoy a similar activity to come together. In these situations, leadership and collaboration skills formgrow. At the end of the day, havingit is also simply fun to have a game to play because it can take your mind off of other problems. This is one reason why it is so important to keep athletics as enjoyable as possible. 

When speaking with Smeir, an organization called Cleats for Kids was brought up. This group collects soccer supplies to send to some schools in Jacmel, Haiti. These children that attend these schools live in a politically, economically, and socially tense environment. The mission statement of this organization is to send supplies so that these children are given a bit of time to just be kids and enjoy their childhood by playing sports. Smeir confirmed that therapeutic interventions such as playing sports have been recommended by psychologists to children who have lived through scarring events. Along with the positive effects listed above, Smeir also stated that “sports relieve trauma and improve mental health by improving coping skills and providing a support system to deal with stress” (Smeir, personal communication, July 3, 2023).  Overall, this interview with Smeir clarified the ability for healing, mental health improvement, and stress reduction by playing sports, especially for those who have faced trauma.  One’s environment and the feedback they received through that environment has an immense impact on their behavior, decision making, and overall psyche. Studies show that positive feedback based on effort rather than performance produced children who were less likely to burn out and struggle when things did not go perfectly. Athletics can be used to alter the effects on a child’s psychology. Psychologists encourage athletics because the physical and mental aspects of playing sports can heal and improve mental health in children.

Another Shipment!

Just the other day we received news that our shipment of cleats, toothpaste, and toothbrushes from August 2023 has arrived! This was a part of our head to toe shipment. Thank you to all who donated and were involved in the shipment process. We are so pleased that these resources are helping to share the beautiful game with our lovely friends in Haiti.

All photo credits to CCO.

Welcome…Bem-vindo…Akeyi…خوش آمدی…Benvenuta…Bienvenue…Welkom…Fáilte

Welcome to the Cleats for Kids homepage! We’d love for you to read about us, donate, or share, but most importantly help spread the beautiful game!

EMAIL: Cleatsforkidsco@gmail.com

GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/13c93fec

Tiktok: cleats.for.kids

I’ve played soccer basically all of my life, and it is, rightfully so, referred to as the Beautiful Game. I have many great memories, friendships, and saving moments gifted to me by this game. Last summer I had a really hard day so I biked to the soccer fields in the misty rain and just played by myself for hours. Maybe it was the rain washing away the feelings, or the clouds shielding the bad vibes, but I truly believe it was playing soccer that made me forget all my troubles. As I packed up to go home I slowly realized how those hours of soccer had washed away all my worries. The rain washed away all the feelings I released as I pounded the ball into the net.

It was soon after I realized that if anyone else needed to feel an escape like mine, this sport didn’t require much. Honestly, throughout my childhood, I played soccer with ANYTHING. The bouncy balls in the Walmart toy section, deflated basketballs, post-birthday party balloons, tennis balls, balls of socks, and the list goes on. I started reaching out to past teammates, friends, and digging through my own old soccer supplies. I reached out to my church, Vienna Presbyterian, and got in contact with the lovely Ms. Parker and the mission team including Mr. Seipt, and Ms. Hamblen who were all extremely pleasant and helpful with my plans to send soccer supplies to some schools in Haiti.

It was a process, but finally, over Thanksgiving break when I got home, we sent out the first shipment! I wrote a note in English and, with the help of the not-so-reliable google translate, Haitian Creole. The thing is, I didn’t want to end there. When I say we all should get the choice to experience the beautiful game, I truly mean ALL of us :)! That is why, through this Cleats for Kids organization, we plan to continue to send out supplies to a multitude of places using donations of actual supplies or money from the GoFundMe that goes into purchasing and sending supplies. I really hope you can join us on the journey! Feel free to leave any comments, questions, and suggestions of how we can extend this project and anything else!

This page will be our interactive space for the Cleats for Kids Organization, and the beautiful game in general! Stay tuned for some information on prospective sponsors and partnerships and updates on the package!

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