Palmer Trinity graduate Francisco Martinez made a world of difference to children in the South Miami-Dade area with his program, Palm Lacrosse. Palm Lacrosse was his initiative in the Palmer Trinity School Agents of Change Social Entrepreneurship Class.
Martinez, a Palmer lacrosse team captain since he was in the 10th grade, says the class requires students to seek out an issue in the community that they are passionate about.
“I took a passion I have for lacrosse, which I’ve been playing since seventh grade, and took it to Breakthrough Miami,” he says. “The problem I saw in the community, budget cuts were devouring after school programs in Miami-Dade schools. They don’t have the same opportunities as other kids because of a lack of funding in the school system. I at least introduced the sport to the kids.”
Martinez sees lacrosse as a sport that can be an outlet to relieve stress, which can help students get through the day. So he gathered his teammates together and they conducted clinics on Breakthrough Miami Saturdays.
“We are introducing them to the sport and what it is to be a team,” he says. “It not only shows them the fundamentals of the sport but the mechanics of teamwork.”
The first year of the program, Martinez was able to use Palmer equipment for the clinics, so the program did not require a lot of funding.
They held a total of four clinics. They did receive a $500 grant from Terra Bank, which they used to buy lacrosse sticks, shirts and water bottles. He says he wanted the kids to feel like they were part of a team.
“At the end of the year, we have to take our initiative to a panel,” he says. “We are trying to get the panel to invest money to make the initiative sustainable.”
That presentation went quite well and they secured $1,000 in funding, plus an additional $200 from a parent who saw the benefits of the program.
“Besides the funding we received, I created Palm Lacrosse in a way that is sustainable,” he says.
“It’s basically a Palmer Trinity sports team initiative.”
Next year, the captains of the team will run the program and when they graduate, they will pass it on.
“It’s a constant loop within the lacrosse team,” Martinez says.
This summer, Palm Lacrosse will work with the kids attending the six-week Breakthrough Miami program.
“Now Breakthrough Miami will be going Monday through Friday, so we will have even more time with the kids,” he says.
The next goal is to establish a lacrosse team at other Breakthrough Miami programs. There are programs at Ransom Everglades and Miami Country Day.
Next fall, Martinez plans to be in Ireland for a study-abroad program through the University of Florida. There he will take courses in English and Irish studies. He will begin at the UF campus in the spring in the Innovation Academy. He will major in environmental entrepreneurship and have a minor in innovation.
While at Palmer, Martinez played French horn in the band. The band played concerts as far away as China and Toronto.
He participated in one of the Palmer Nicaragua missions and helped build a house for a needy family. But he also took another trip to Nicaragua to work with his family on the Ortiz Gurdian Fundacion, a foundation that sponsors a breast cancer clinic.
“I shadowed some of the doctors and helped with giving out the medications,” he says. “The women get free screenings, as well a medication and treatment.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld