||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
NYSP Celebrates its 30th |
MAILED: July 8, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE There is something to be said about the right start.
Not only the theme of this year's National Youth Sports Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, "The Right Start" also could refer to the opening moments of UW-Eau Claire's celebration of the national program's 30th anniversary.
The sounds of lively, upbeat music and the shouts and laughter of hundreds of children set the tone for the warm afternoon as NYSP participants, counselors, staff and friends gathered at UW-Eau Claire's Simpson field.
Beginning June 10, UW-Eau Claire and NYSP hosted about 500 area youth ages 10-16 for five weeks of sports, fun and education.
The UW-Eau Claire program is one of 170 similar programs in the country, giving youth from economically disadvantaged families the opportunity to come to a college campus and receive training in sports and educational activities, said Diane Gilbertson, NYSP activity director and director of University Centers and Programs.
NYSP is federally funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is administered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Food services are paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Because of the national funding, the program, activities, food and experiences are free to participants, Gilbertson said. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
"I don't know how many of these kids would have gone to college if it weren't for NYSP," Gilbertson said. "I don't know where else you could send a child for free where they get this kind of opportunity."
That opportunity includes everything from professional instruction to group chants on a football field on the special activity day.
And as groups made their treks around the track to various athletic and team-cooperation stations, some participants couldn't help but smile.
"I love it it's my second year as a counselor," said counselor and former participant Sondra Joas. "I think it gives kids a sense of self-esteem and confidence to be able to compete in sports."
A junior at UW-Stout, Joas saw another benefit to the program the pride for participants.
"You see these kids smile and you really know they've done something," she said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 8, 1998