On a cold Sunday afternoon, a group of boys from Cunningham's Cornerstone unit gathered at the Spiritual Life Center to watch "When the Game Stands Tall."
The movie may be about football on the surface but is packed with Christian messages. Chaplains Gay and Melvin organize the weekly movies for all of the units as a way to open up discussion on an assortment of topics with our kids.
"When the Game Stands Tall" tells the story of a high school football team taken from obscurity to a 151 game winning streak. The movie focuses on the season that changes everything for the team. One player is pressured by his father to keep winning and breaking records. The coach feeling pressure to balance his family and his football team ends up having a medical crisis. During this time of crisis the team loses their first game 28-7, breaking the streak. When they lose a second game they are truly shaken and start blaming each other. As the coach recovers he asks the individuals to start playing for the team and not for themselves. He teaches the players about giving through volunteerism at the veteran's hospital. The team members are inspired and walk away with an appreciation of how the veterans are able to overcome their disabilities.
During the group discussion after the movie, one Cunningham teen tried to express his thoughts but his mind was moving faster than his words. Another youth, in a caring fashion, directly told him to slow down and take his time to get out what he wanted to say. Without breaking speech pattern, the young man took the advice of his peer, reflected on his thoughts, and clearly shared them with the group.
The actions of both boys provided a great example of peer teamwork and encouragement in action. The general consensus among the youth was to remember to focus on the team effort and the importance of their support of the team. The teens realized that sometimes they may fail, but if they focus on their programming goals - listening to their emotions, practicing good decision making, being considerate of each other, etc. - they will make progress.