Michael Nelson traded the training pitch for the classroom on Thursday when he joined a select group of students from Edison Middle School as part of EverFi’s Actions Matter bullying-prevention program.
MLS WORKS partnered with EverFi in March and the program is available to more than 700 students across seven schools in Houston. Edison was one of the charter schools to activate the program and chose to reward students that finished all the modules with a surprise visit from the Dynamo goalkeeper. Nelson joined students for an overview of the final program module and spent the afternoon reflecting on his experience as a professional athlete.
“It was great to be here. I like spending time with young people and hoping to give some wisdom and some good lessons. At the age they’re at now, it is important to learn about embracing cultural differences,” Nelson said. “We wanted to give them tips to deal with bullying and avoid bullying altogether and this program does that. It offers a real, applicable lesson to the kids and I think that a few of them took the words to heart.”
Soccer consumes the Edison campus as students begin the day with a pickup game that is only interrupted by the tardy bell at 8:25 a.m. The game resumes at lunch and once again after the final bell of the day.
In between each game students shift their focus to the bullying-prevention program that is taught by Tara Webb, the Principal of Information of Technology teacher at Edison. Webb greeted the Dynamo shot stopper in her favorite Dynamo t-shirt and scarf prior to the first stop of the day.
“The Dynamo is such a big part of our community, the (students) are literally a train ride down from BBVA Stadium,” Webb said. “So, it is amazing that any athlete would come and talk to them, but soccer is just the sport that they love. I coached their soccer team last year and it is just amazing to have that relatability with the sport and with someone who does it for a living.”
Nelson highlighted his experience navigating a locker room with teammates from different nationalities and backgrounds in the final stop of the day – an assembly hall with approximately 150 students. The 24-year-old also reflected on his biggest takeaway from an active year with Dynamo Charities that, in addition to speaking to students at Edison, included donating soccer equipment to two schools and meeting fans throughout the city at various events.
“I look back on my career experience that I’ve had and how you can go about navigating things with people of different background and differences – that sort of thing. It’s good to share that with them and I hope they retain some of it,” Nelson said. “These experiences put things in perspective. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to have the platform that I have and the opportunities that I’ve had. It reminds me not to take things for granted and that I’m blessed to be able to make other people excited with how I play soccer. It is definitely a blessing.”