||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
NYSP Returns for
18th Year at UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: June 10, 1998|
Boys and girls ages 10-16 can spend five weeks having fun and learning this summer through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's 18th Annual National Youth Sports Program.
With the program's theme "The Right Start," its focus is to give children from economically deprived families a chance to participate in activities they might not be able to afford otherwise while giving participants a taste of life on a college campus, said Diane Gilbertson, director of UW-Eau Claire University Centers and Programs and director of NYSP.
A mandatory instructional swimming program, additional sports, an educational program that includes hands-on activities relating to drugs and alcohol, health, nutrition, higher education and careers, and a math/science component are all included in the fun, Gilbertson said.
"It's not just sports," she said. "I think some people get misled when they hear the title, but there is an educational component. I don't know where else you could send a child for free where they get this kind of opportunity."
Nearly 500 youths already have signed up for the free program, which begins June 10 and continues through July 15. The program is funded through a grant presented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the NCAA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, provides additional funding for food services.
Because of the funding, each participant will receive free sports instruction and educational classes along with transportation, breakfast and lunch. Everyone also receives a free physical examination and a T-shirt.
When it began 18 years ago, about 150 students participated in the program, Gilbertson said. Both the program and participation have grown since then, helping UW-Eau Claire gain national recognition. Since 1988, the university's program has been recognized six times as one of the top five programs among the 172 NYSP programs nationwide. In 1991, the UW-Eau Claire program was named the top program in the country and received the Silvio O. Conte Award for Excellence.
Executive Director for Student Support Services Bill Harms, UW-Eau Claire's NYSP project administrator, said there are a number of items which helped the project gain recognition.
"Without the staff the program wouldn't be where it was today," Harms said, praising Gilbertson's hiring abilities. "The other thing is curriculum. The staff and curriculum go hand in hand."
This year's NYSP will offer something extra because events are planned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the national NYSP, Gilbertson said. A representative of Sen. Russ Feingold's office and advisory committee members will be on hand July 1 to celebrate.
Gilbertson said the 50 people hired to run the program help make NYSP a success in Eau Claire. Staff includes many UW-Eau Claire graduates. Thersea Burzynski will be math/science coordinator; Kristin Peterson is the education specialist; Paul Janson will be a math/science teacher; John Horn, professional staff member for team sports; and Christopher Miller, tennis.
Other members of the staff include Jeff Lutz, track/football; Lisa McIntyre, gymnastics/special assistant; Michael Hudson, softball; Tom Prior, swimming; and Troy White, soccer. Jim Britton, who teaches in Chippewa Falls, will be the drug and alcohol coordinator.
In addition, college students are hired each summer to act as counselors for the participants. This year's group of 30 counselors includes seven returning counselors and five former NYSP participants.
The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Participants are bused from their neighborhoods to the Hilltop Center, where they eat breakfast before beginning the day's activities. They eat lunch before heading home in the afternoon. A family picnic will be held at the close of the program and weekly prize drawings also will be held.
"I see how it helps the participants and the counselors," Gilbertson said of the program. "I see growth in each of those areas and I think it also makes people appreciate their own lives."
Harms said offering the program allows UW-Eau Claire to fulfill an important function.
"We have the resources here at the university (to offer NYSP) and community service is part of our mission," he said.
For more information about NYSP, call University Recreation at (715) 836-3377.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 16, 1998