As a part of the celebration of LatinX Heritage Month, Steelers rookies spent Tuesday afternoon at the Latino Community Center SOY Pittsburgh Afterschool Program, visiting with the kids who take part in the program.
The SOY program, which stands for Support Our Youth, is made up of kids in kindergarten through fifth grade that meet Monday-Friday.
"The focus of the program is academic advancement, cultural empowerment, social and emotional development and family engagement," said Emily Blair, Director of Education for the Latino Community Center. "All of our students are LatinX students and many of them are from other countries and speak Spanish as their first language, so our program is bilingual.
"The goal for the visit today was for the Steelers to learn a little bit about the student's culture."
The students offered some insight into their lives by bringing in items that represent the country they are from, setting up a museum of sorts for the players to view the items. Some students and staff also dressed in attire to represent their culture.
And there was also a salsa lesson from one of the staff, giving the players a chance to have some fun while learning one of the most popular dances in the culture.
"We love giving our kids this chance because the whole purpose of the program and its foundation is to help our kids be proud of their heritage," said Blair. "They've really felt some of the marginalization of being a Latino immigrant in recent years, so a program like this seeks to build them up in their heritage. The opportunity to share with others is really what it comes to, so when they meet other people, we want them to be able to speak about where they're from with pride and excitement and that's exactly what this was."
Having the Steelers visit was something that showed the kids they are becoming a part of the Pittsburgh culture as well, which is one of the overall goals of the program.
"For us, this is so important," said Blair. "The very name of our program is SOY Pittsburgh and in Spanish SOY means 'I am.' The name has a dual meaning for us. 'I am Pittsburgh,' but it's also called SOY because it stands for 'Supporting our Youth.' And the reason that we named it that is because we want our kids to know that they are the future of Pittsburgh and that they are a key part of Pittsburgh.
"For me, someone who grew up in Pittsburgh, but then fell in love with Latin cultures and went to Mexico, I love the Steelers and growing up part of my life was Steelers Sunday. For the Steelers to take an interest in our programs and our youth is huge because it shows us that they are becoming that key part of Pittsburgh and that's our goal."