Representatives from the Chicago Bulls visited Mercy Home to help kick off the Winter Wellness Challenge. The six-week program will encourage young people to make intentional choices that will benefit their mental, emotional, and intellectual health.
“The Winter Wellness Challenge is all about acknowledging the effort youth and programs already expend supporting wellness, while encouraging youth to sample activities that they may want to adopt as new habits,” said Mercy Home After School and Tutoring Coordinator Veronica Quintero.
Members of the Chicago Bulls organization, including live performers, an emcee, cheerleaders, and other team representatives, greeted Mercy Home’s young people energetically and kept the excitement pulsing throughout the afternoon.
Also on hand were representatives from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a risk and consulting firm with offices near Mercy Home’s West Loop Campus. Gallagher volunteers handed out water and snacks and offered encouragement to the young people in attendance.
Gallagher, the Chicago Bulls, and Mercy Home enjoy a longstanding partnership that provides life-changing opportunities for Mercy Home’s young people. Larry Phillips, Assistant Divisional Vice President of Culture & Inclusion at Gallagher was energized to offer a helping hand at the event by his lived experience and his empathy for young people like those living at Mercy Home.
The Winter Wellness Challenge is all about acknowledging the effort youth and programs already expend supporting wellness, while encouraging youth to sample activities that they may want to adopt as new habits – Veronica Quintero, Mercy Home After School and Tutoring Coordinator
“For me, growing up in Cabrini Green here in the city, I’ve had a lot of people that have personally spent their time giving back to me,” Phillips said. “And I wanted to pay it forward. And so, events like these are very near and dear to my heart too.”
Mercy Home nurse Miranda McDonald addressed the assembly, expressing the hope of this year’s Winter Wellness Challenge.
“We want you to stay healthy and inspire [you] to start the year off in a good way,” McDonald said. “And at the end of the challenge, you’ll even be going to a Bulls game!”
Chicago Bulls Community Relations Manager Andrea Pesola expressed the team’s dedication to motivating young people around wellness. “Our hope is that students invest in their health both physical and mental,” Pesola said. “We also wanted the opportunity for them to get creative.”
Participants received Bulls-themed goody bags that included health-motivating tools like a bingo card, pedometer, and a SMART goal worksheet. The bingo card listed challenges to stay active, try new foods, and practice overall self-care with activities ranging from strength and conditioning classes to chess games to journaling.
Welcomed guests included the Chicago Bulls’ very own producer and host Todd Abbott, who led trivia challenges and prize givaways for the evening. Abbott invited young people to answer Chicago Bulls trivia in exchange for exclusive Bulls merchandise including basketballs, backpacks, and other coveted items. No one left the stage empty handed.
For me, growing up in Cabrini Green here in the city, I’ve had a lot of people that have personally spent their time giving back to me. And I wanted to pay it forward. And so, events like these are very near and dear to my heart too. – Larry Phillips, Assistant Divisional Vice President of Culture & Inclusion at Gallagher
Abbott’s energy was rivaled only by the Chicago Bulls’ Bucket Boys performers, a skilled quartet who crafted incredible beats using only their talent, drumsticks, and five-gallon, hard plastic utility buckets. One of Mercy Home’s young people even joined in an impromptu performance with the Bucket Boys.
Later, young people had the opportunity to turn brand-name canvas sneakers, donated to Mercy Home by the Chicago Bulls, into wearable works of art. Using paints and other materials, some kept their designs understated while others leaned in heavily to create splashier and more colorful kicks. Anthony Amos, a local Chicago artist, guided participants through this activity while also encouraging them to let their imaginations run wild.
“The Bulls were excited for youth to kick off the new year with new shoes since they’ll be busy on their feet,” Quintero said.
The prizes available at the end of the Winter Wellness Challenge include Bulls merchandise, signed basketball equipment, a shopping spree at Semicolon Bookstore, tickets to attend a live play at the iconic Steppenwolf theater, and a cook-off competition with the Bulls’ very own nutritionist.
Mercy Home is grateful to the Chicago Bulls and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for starting the new year strong with a memorable experience that will encourage health and wellness.