Mitzvot from the Heart: Nina Sachs

Nina Sachs (left) worked with Special Needs Soccer Association for her mitzvah project. 

Nina Sachs

Congregation Shaare Emeth

 Nina Sachs, daughter of Kimberly Winters of Olivette and the late Peter Sachs, has been playing soccer since she was 6 years old. It is by far her favorite sport. She took her love of soccer and volunteered eight Saturday mornings with the Special Needs Soccer Association (SPENSA) as her mitzvah project. 

SPENSA is a nonprofit St Louis-based soccer program for young people who have mental or physical disabilities. It is designed to bring the excitement and fun of playing soccer to players who traditionally have not had a place in the youth soccer system. 

“I was excited about it because I was getting a chance to do something that I would not get to do without the organization,” said Nina, student at Ladue Middle School. “I think it’s good for people without disabilities to see what they might take for granted.”

On the first day at the Soccer Complex, Nina and Claire, 22, who has participated with SPENSA since she was a young girl, immediately gravitated toward each other. Claire chose Nina to be her buddy. 

Although Claire was more independent than most of the others, she and Nina worked on soccer skills such as kicking the ball into the goal and getting through the obstacle course. Nina encouraged Claire to push herself physically and cheered her on during the games. She also kept active by retrieving balls and helping out when needed. 

“My favorite part about working with Claire was seeing her face light up when I would approach the field,” Nina said. “It made me feel really good that I had a positive impact on Claire’s day.”

Nina is not on a soccer team but is eager to pick it up in high school. To keep her skills fresh and stay sharp, she has attended 6 Points Sports Academy in North Carolina.