Abdias organizes and coaches pick-up soccer games for kids in his South District neighborhood at Wetherby Park. He started the program in 2022 because of his love for the game and its power to unite people and build community. The South District is a multicultural neighborhood with residents from Sudan, Cameroon, Mexico, Laos, and Vietnam. Abdias noticed that as diverse as his neighbors were, they all had one thing in common: they loved soccer. Players of all different ages join the pick-up games, young and old. Abdias paints the field and contributes, along with his neighbors, to buying soccer pinnies, jerseys, and goalposts. The soccer field has become a shared space for the neighborhood, with kids from Faith Academy playing in the soccer field in the mornings. Abdias mentions that coordinating soccer at the park has been challenging, with the City needing to be more supportive of making the field a better playing space. Each time the grass is mowed, Abdias must repaint the field lines, a financial cost he takes on; even the kids sometimes chip in. To Abdias, this investment in his neighborhood is a passion and an opportunity to make his community a better place for kids than the one he grew up in. In the future, Abdias envisions a mini-tournament and inviting different neighborhoods to play. You can find him on Facebook at Iowa City Soccer Wetherby Park!
Faitma joined a few of her neighbors in starting a neighborhood association in their neighborhood, the Wonderful Westside Neighborhood Association. As one of their first projects, they have they decided to create public art for their neighborhood to enjoy. With the help of Loyce L Arthur, Professor of Art at the University of Iowa, they are painting their neighborhood’s story of peace, diversity and community. Kids in the neighborhood have also contributed to the project by painting parts of the mural and artwork on the tables outside the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center. The mural inspires their neighbors and provides a communal space for them to better get to know each other. You can visit their Wonderful Westside Neighborhood to see their work!