The Chicago Fire Foundation P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program is committed to enhancing the academic performance and development of key social and emotional (SEL) skills of elementary school students through a sports based curriculum.
The P.L.A.Y.S. Program not only teaches soccer skills, but also explicitly teaches SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) traits and values such as emotional control, goal setting and attainment, cooperation and respect and communication and teamwork. These SEL traits are tied to academic success and are used with sport training to improve the physical well-being and academic capabilities of the students. It is our belief that by teaching these values within the structure of an athletic activity, that students will learn and adopt these values, transfer them from the athletic field to the classroom and thereby improve both their behavior as well as their academic outcomes.
P.L.A.Y.S. has drawn high marks from community leaders, including former Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel.
"By teaching our children the skills of teamwork, focus, discipline, and overcoming adversity – you are teaching them the skills they need for success in life," Emanuel said.
Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 200,000 hours of soccer has been played by both girls and boys in third through fifth grade. For 2021 programming, P.L.A.Y.S. has expanded in to a total of 40 Chicago Public Schools serving nearly 1,000 youth. Click here to see where programming is taking place.