Hoops for Peace encourages students to think about college
Hoops for Peace encourages students to think about collegeApril 03, 2008SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
On April 5, the scene inside Syracuse University’s Manley Field House will be reminiscent of game day at the Carrier Dome. Middle school students from several Syracuse schools will run through tunnels of wildly cheering spectators to the theme of “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble,” slapping high fives as they take to the basketball court for the final game in the Hoops for Peace program.
Hoops for Peace is a unique six-week program that uses basketball to engage Syracuse middle school students, ages 11-15, in thinking about college and careers. The program is sponsored by the Syracuse Inner City Rotary Club in partnership with the Office of Community Engagement and Integrative Learning in SU’s Hendricks Chapel, the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the Syracuse School District’s Westside Strategy Initiative.
Co-chairs of the program are Rachael Gazdick, director of Hendricks Chapel’s Office of Community Engagement and Integrative Learning and assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies, and Kenneth Miles, associate director of athletics for student-athlete support services at SU.
Over the past five weekends, students have come together each Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for basketball games and educational workshops on topics such as medicine, law, journalism and business. Community volunteers have served as coaches, referees, scorekeepers and, most importantly, as mentors, speaking at halftime to students about going to college and potential careers. Participating students have come from Delaware Elementary School, Blodgett K-8 School, Bellevue Elementary School, Bellevue Middle School, Seymour Elementary School, Roberts School, Southside Academy and Vincent House.
“Hoops for Peace illustrates how experiential learning and education can coexist through the art of basketball, a sport that often teaches characteristics such as creativity, communication, team-building skills, leadership, conflict resolution and courage that are valued by all,” says Miles. “These are traits that will be utilized well beyond their adolescent and teenage years, and we are very fortunate that Hoops for Peace teaches the fundamentals.”
Gazdick says that Hoops for Peace has been successful in large part due to the time and talent given by more than 100 University and community volunteers in support of the program. “I am always moved by the generosity of people’s willingness to give of their time and talent to impact the lives of our children,” she says. “My hope is that volunteers throughout the city will find ways to open up buildings after school, on the weekends and throughout the summer to offer young people as many educational opportunities as possible.
“What we have discovered is that by coming together and pooling our resources, we have the ability to create remarkable experiences for young people that will have a lasting impact on both the children and volunteers,” Gazdick says.
On April 5, appearances by Otto the Orange and SU student-athletes, as well as performances by the Syracuse Signature Jazz Ensemble, will add to the festivities, which run from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The program will include a welcome by the Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, dean of Hendricks Chapel; a keynote address at halftime by Miles; and the presentation of Hoops for Peace medallions to each participant by Khalid Bey, president of the Syracuse Inner City Rotary Club.
The Hoops for Peace Program will culminate in College Night on Tuesday, April 8, from 6-8 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. Students and their parents will be bused to the chapel, where they will view a highlight tape of the previous seven weeks, learn about different college majors and take a tour of the SU campus.