As part of a Community-Based Learning course service requirement, David Caiafa was introduced to the robust enrichment programming at the Renaissance Youth Center in the South Bronx. Given freedom by the RYC staff to choose his area of contribution, David called upon his high school experiences as both an athlete and a youth peer leader, and volunteered as an assistant with the RYC basketball program. Although he is not a basketball player, David saw in the participants of the program visions of himself as an emotional and sometimes volatile adolescent and he brainstormed ways in which he could help them to channel their passions towards self development, as he has. He spoke with the coach about designing a mindfulness workshop for the preteen boys wherein he could teach them to center themselves and to use mindful breathing and visualization exercises to calm their minds and bodies and to focus, reducing reactivity and increasing cooperation and positivity. With enthusiastic support of the RYC staff, David has taken the initiative to implement this program to great success with the boys and has recently expanded to include a second mindfulness workshop for RYC basketball's autistic athletes. In this endeavor, David has shown uncommon commitment to the well being of others, compassion, initiative and perseverance.
At the end of the practice, I was throwing on my jacket and I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder. I looked behind me, and I saw one of the players behind me. As we began to talk, he thanked me for teaching them to meditate because he was beginning to integrate meditation into his daily life, and it was helping him a lot in school and at home. He told me that his grades were improving along with his happiness and confidence. At this point, I saw my goals for the program come to fruition. Meditation allows people to stop the chaos that occurs in their life and find a secure place where they can relax and discover their self. My goal is for the kids at RYC is for them to realize that this could be a solution to their stressors. For them to integrate this into their own lives and benefit from it is the result that I desire for all of them. To already know that one of these kids is doing that made me feel like superman. Even if I just change one life, I know I did something to help change the world.