June 28, 2002
Children attend National Youth Sports Program at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. More than 200 children from Greater Lafayette and surrounding areas have arrived at Purdue University for five weeks of swimming, tennis and soccer lessons, physical fitness and health education classes.
The activities are sponsored by Purdue through the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP). Program administrator Tom Templin, who also serves as head of Purdue's Department of Health and Kinesiology, says Purdue decided to join 200 other colleges and universities in administering the program upon the encouragement of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The program, which is free for participants, runs daily from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Wednesday, July 24. It is supported in part by a $55,000 federal grant.
The children, ages 10-16, were referred by their school corporations. Templin says each child received a free health screening from the Student Health Center prior to the program. Speech and hearing tests also were provided.
"We had a kid come in for a medical exam with a broken arm, and he didn't even know it," Templin says.
Templin says that while each day is packed with fun recreational activities, a theme of social responsibility is stressed by the program staff and counselors. The children also participate in health classes, including drug and alcohol education, and discussions about self esteem, family relationships and friendship.
"We expect these kids to respect one another, help others, give the best efforts that they can and to carry these concepts outside of school," Templin says.
Special events, such as a family night on Tuesday (7/2) and a career day, also have been incorporated into the program.
Career Day organizer Denise Seabert, who is an assistant professor of health and kinesiology, says that Career Day featured professionals from Greater Lafayette who shared their work through interactive demonstrations.
"I asked the professionals to provide the kids with some sense of experience in that career," Seabert says. "For instance, with the veterinary technician, the kids will get to practice listening to an animal's heart. The military person will show pictures, and then he'll take the kids outside to practice marching."
Counselors followed up the hands-on experiences with a discussion of how to prepare for those careers.
The children also will participate in scavenger hunts, during which they will attempt to locate Purdue landmarks such as John Purdue's grave or a particular fountain.
"One of our goals is to help these kids become familiar with campus and higher education," Templin says.
Bill Harper, NYSP program director for Purdue, says perfect attendance will be rewarded with a drawing for a free bike every eight days.
"This is a positive growth experience for these kids," Harper says. "In some cases, we have to encourage them to show up and us let do what we can do."
Josefa (ho-sef'-a) Berumen of Lafayette says she doesn't need any encouragement to attend NYSP.
"It's cool," Berumen says. "There's a bunch of things to do here. I like swimming. They teach us how to jump and swim backwards."
Jeannie Burke, NYSP director of youth sports, says that for many program participants, this is their first exposure to higher education, even if they are living just a few miles from campus.
"This might be their first year on a college campus," Burke says. "They might consider attending Purdue in the near future and becoming an NYSP counselor."
Burke says she is pleased Purdue has joined the other universities and colleges in facilitating the NYSP program, which began in 1969.
"These guys have really worked especially hard," she says. "This is a fantastic venue for the NYSP."
Burke says she hopes the counselors develop a long-term mentoring relationship with the children in their particular group.
"That's the reward, those individual relationships that we don't always know about," she says. "Those kids will look to them (the counselors) as role models."
Mike Piggott, Purdue's director of community relations, says counselors will be encouraged to keep in touch with their "campers."
"We want the counselors to be their heroes and check in with them every month," he says.
Counselor Monique Serros, a sophomore from East Chicago, Ind., who is studying law and society, says she definitely plans to keep in touch with her "kids."
"I've told them that I plan to get a hold of them and go for pizza and swim at my house," Serros says.
Serros says the fact that she is bilingual has helped with the many Hispanic participants in the program.
"A couple of students speak English, but Spanish is their primary language," she says. "A few feel more comfortable speaking in Spanish."
Harper and Templin say the counselors have been doing a good job bonding with the kids. Templin also says he has been pleased with the support demonstrated by the rest of the Purdue community, from the food prepared at the residence halls and the support offered by the Recreational Student Center and physical facilities, to the screenings at the Department of Audiology and Speech Science and the language translators supplied by the Department of Foreign Languages.
"There has been so much university cooperation," Templin says. "Provost Sally Frost Mason and Vice Provost Don Gentry also have been great in supporting the NYSP. It's been fantastic."
Templin says he looks forward to the NYSP becoming an annual Purdue event.
"We want to touch a generation of kids," he says. "We want to help them with their physical and health education, as well as understanding life at a university. We also want to prepare them for their personal and social responsibilities throughout life."
Burke says she looks forward to helping Purdue continue to reach out to the community through the NYSP.
"We're here for the kids," she says. "We want to put a smile on their faces."
If Berumen's face is any indication, she'll be smiling the rest of the summer.
Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Tom Templin, (765) 494-3178, email@example.com,
Jeannie Burke, (317) 829-5781, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Harper, (765) 494-1518, email@example.com
Denise Seabert (765) 494-3188, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Piggott, (765) 494-4636, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/templin.nysp.jpeg.