The AU men’s basketball team was one of eight colleges and universities recently recognized by NADIIIAA/JOSTENS for impressive community service projects performed by their student-athletes during the 2003-04 academic year. The NADIIIAA/JOSTENS Community Service Awards were presented on as part of the annual Division III Delegates Reception sponsored by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators at the NCAA Convention held in Dallas, Texas. The program is intended to recognize the many contributions Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
For the past five years, the team has sent approximately 30 student athletes to the Wilson’s Boys and Girls Club of Anderson to work with disadvantaged minorities. Each year consists of a six week period in which the student basketball athletes spend four days a week (three hours each day) working with young boys and girls between the ages of 8-16 at the club.
“The Boys & Girls Club of Madison County has been fortunate over the past four years due to the efforts of the Anderson University Men’s Basketball Program,” said Wilson Club Chief Volunteer Officer Randy Cook. “During this time, more than 500 hours a year have been volunteered by players and coaches. This support has impacted more than 100 youth through positive relationships, mentoring and educational support.”
The student athletes focus on five different areas of need with the club kids and wrap up the six-week session with a life skills clinic. The areas include computers, homework helper, game room, dinner and fitness programming.
The computer program is called ClubTech and thanks to more than a $100 million donation from Microsoft, boys and girls clubs are given the tools to make staff and kids at the clubs effective technology users. In conjunction with these resources, we give members basic computer skills, introduce them to digital movie making, music making, photography, graphic design and web development. Other various activities also include: internet use, educational software, internet safety education software and technology education software.
The homework helper program is called Project Learn and is designed to reinforce and enhance the skills and knowledge young people learn at school through “high yield” learning activities at the club and in the home. Project Learn emphasizes collaborations between club staff, parents and school personnel. J.C. Penny After School is the sponsor of Project Learn.
The dinner program provides a hot nutritious meal to the participating youth ages 5-12. This program provides these meals at no cost to the youth. During the first six months of this year, the program has provided over 3,500 meals to the club’s youth. The student athletes are responsible for meal preparation, meal service and dining room setup, supervision and clean-up.
The game room program is intended to provide kids with a supervised recreational area utilizing the resources. The activities are fun and inclusive of all age kids. Games done in the past include: pool, bumper pool, foosball, skeeball and table games.
The fitness program is sponsored by The Sports Authority, Inc., and promotes fitness for all kids. There is a 12-week curriculum for each of three age groups: 6-9 (fitness squad), 10-14 (fitness masters) and 15-18 (fitness stars). Weekly sessions cover every aspect of fitness, drawing upon themes of sports culture and history, self-esteem, nutrition and physical fitness. There is also an annual Fitness Authority Pentathlon.
There are also daily challenges with the fitness program. The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Challenge helps girls build new skills via a fun fitness circuit. The Michael Jordan Invent-A-Sport Challenge encourages creativity and fitness, allowing kids to create their own game or sport, illustrate and demonstrate the activity and play it with their peers. The Ken Griffey Jr. Home Run Challenge is where kids build basic motor skills through throwing, catching and running a game The Dawn Staley Basketball Challenge offers instruction and practice in dribbling, assisting and shooting a basketball. The Jump Rope Challenge improves strength, skills and endurance as participants jump “against the clock.”
“The basketball program has also included the youth of this organization in its team activities, allowing the Boys & Girls Club youth to attend games, participate in team dinners and performances at halftime of games,” said Chief Professional Officer Bruce Rhodes.
This Anderson University team project has been very successful over the years and reached hundreds of disadvantaged minorities in Anderson and Madison County. The team and head coach Denny Lehnus were awarded the Wilson Boys and Girls Club Volunteer of the Year Award, which is given annually to a group that has provided a high level of support to the Boys and Girls Club.
“The players and coaches have taken it upon themselves to help many disadvantaged children create a sense of pride and future,” Cook said. “The Boys and Girls Club can truly say these volunteers have mad a difference with the children ‘on’ and ‘off’ the court.”
Anderson University is a private, four year, Christian liberal arts institution of approximately 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, nursing, and theology.