UST to host free summer programs for at-risk kids

UST to host free summer programs for at-risk kids

More than 425 children from low-income families, most of them students of color and from inner-city neighborhoods in St. Paul and Minneapolis, will enjoy athletic and academic enrichment activities free at the University of St. Thomas this summer.

Three free programs for kids will be held this summer on St. Thomas' St. Paul campus:

The 17th annual National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), sponsored by the university's School of Education in partnership with the St. Paul and Minneapolis public school districts, runs June 25-July 13.

NYSP blends sports activities – basketball, softball, soccer, bocce ball, golf, cricket and volleyball – with academics, which this year include math, entrepreneurial studies, theater and dance.   Health and fitness and academic achievement go hand in hand, helping youngsters to reach beyond challenges to grasp opportunities. NYSP emphasizes good physical health, positive academic performance and making right choices. Participants interact with adult role models, make new friends and develop social skills. As a result, they develop higher self-esteem and learn new skills for leadership and problem solving.

This year NYSP will serve some 140 participants, ages 10-16.  

Dr. Robert Brown, a professor emeritus of education who initiated St. Thomas' NYSP program, has returned to direct the program. His staff includes graduate education student Aaron Koski; School of Education administrative assistant Laurie Shurson; Mark Ahrens, who directed St. Thomas' NYSP program for most of its years and who now teaches mathematics at Normandale Community College; Deane Brown, a Brooklyn Park teacher; Interdistrict Partnership classroom coach Steve Severance; and Ed Michaels, a St. Paul Public Schools behavior specialist.

Federal funding for this program has dwindled, and due to budget cuts, 250 fewer at-risk youth will be able to take part in NYSP this year. Support from the Best Buy Children's Foundation and area professional sports teams and associations have enabled the university to continue NYSP. In an effort to stimulate further support for the program, two visit days have been scheduled for government officials, communities and media: 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, June 28, and Wednesday, July 11. To make a reservation for a visit, call (651) 962-4878 or e-mail Laurie Shurson.

Cultural, Academic and Athletic Program (CAAP) is offered in three sessions between June 25 and Aug. 10. It is supported by the East Metro Integration District, the St. Paul Public Schools and nine suburban school districts. It offers programming similar to NYSP but brings together 235 inner-city and suburban youngsters, grades 5 through 11. For more information about this program, e-mail Steve Severance.

Chosen to Achieve, a St. Paul Public Schools mentoring program for African American youth, pairs junior high and middle school students with adult mentors to offer emotional support and direction for academic success. This year's program has 60 participants and meets Aug. 20-31 at St. Thomas. To learn more about Chosen to Achieve, call Anna Young, (651) 293-5952.