Athletes for Hope (AFH) was honored at East Baton Rouge School Board’s February meeting in recognition of the AFH University program’s dedication to students in the community. During the fall semester, student athletes from Southern and LSU provided story time and fitness videos in partnership with Volunteers in Public Schools that was shared with schools throughout the city.
“We wanted to acknowledge Athletes for Hope this month for their contribution of exercise videos and story times that teachers can use with their in-person and virtual students. It is important that children stay active and continue to read. With these videos, our hope is that they are motivated and see that staying healthy by exercising their minds and their bodies is important. It is also important for them to see collegiate volunteers showing their support and encouraging them to take care of themselves, and hopefully inspire them to pursue higher education.” -Kaia Simmons, VIPS Volunteer and Community Partners Director
“It was an honor to represent Athletes for Hope at the East Baton Rouge School Board meeting. Even though we have been limited with in-person service, through Volunteers In Public Schools we have been able to continue teaching, connecting, and inspiring the youth virtually this year. I can’t wait to see how we can reach our schools in other creative ways this semester.” -Aubrion James, Southern Softball and AFH Intern
On Friday, December 6th, seniors of the LSU Volleyball team presented over 300 books to Glasgow Middle School and Buchanon Elementary. This presentation was the culmination of their senior philanthropy project “ Roaring for Reading” a book drive held on their campus.
What inspired Roaring for Reading?
Roar for Reading came from our own love for books and the impact that they have on us growing up. As children, we adored the stories and the lessons that came from them. Reading not only gives entertainment, but it gives stepping stones to being a better student! -Milan Stokes
How has Athletes for Hope influenced your commitment to service?
Athletes for Hope has shown me how rewarding community service can be. They have provided us with many engaging and exciting opportunities that allowed us to give back to the community that has continuously supported us as LSU athletes. Athletes for Hope has shown me the importance of service and I will continue to participate in service throughout my life. -Anna Zwiebel
What impact do you hope to leave in the Baton Rouge community?
I hope that our Roar for Reading project allows more students in the Baton Rouge community to engage in the gift of reading. The Baton Rouge community has done a tremendous job supporting the athletes and through service we’re able to give back to the community. I hope that these books foster a desire for continual learning and put a smile on young students faces. -Sydney Mukes
This past 2018-2019 school year has been the most successful year of AFH University (AFH U) to date! AFH U continues to grow exponentially in both student-athletes involved in service and the hours they volunteer. This year, we had 2,527 student-athletes* complete 7,608 hours of service across the AFH U campuses! This means that AFH U student-athletes donated $193,471 worth of service to the organizations and causes they care about, lifting up their local communities. This incredible progress is due to the hard work and dedication of our AFH and AFH U staff, liaisons, and all the student-athletes we work to connect to service. AFH U continues to emphasize measurement and evaluation, find improved ways to utilize technology, and expand and modify our curriculum to best serve the needs of student-athletes.
This year, we were proud to have Georgetown University and UCLA joined the AFH U Team. AFH U facilitated 18 workshops this year, reaching 51 sports teams across the eight (8) campuses. Last year we met with multiple Student Athlete Advisory Councils (SAACs) to help develop the AFH U strategic plan. This year, we have worked to implement and utilize it as a guidepost for goals, objectives, and outcomes. This strategic plan helps serve as a guide to our work with student-athlete, university staff and community partner input as crucial resources along the way.
While AFH U expanded the number of universities that we work with, we also worked to deepen the relationships we hold with our existing universities, student leaders, and community partners. 90% of AFH U community visits this year were with repeat community partners and sites! 45 out of the 61 community partners had repeat visits this year. Athletes are doing service in larger groups, for longer periods of time, and are often returning to groups they have worked with in the past. Organizations are asking for regular volunteer hours, consistency among student-athletes and activities, and for clear communication about expectations. All of this great feedback deepens our students’ relationships with the organizations and schools they volunteered for and helps us create a stronger program for student-athletes, community partners, universities and communities who benefit by having student-athletes as volunteers.
For more information about AFH U’s impact in 2018-2019, please see the infographic below.
AFH University teams in Baton Rouge celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in the MLK Festival of Service hosted by The Walls Project. This four day event consisted of painting blighted buildings and murals, planting community gardens and trees, stenciling house numbers on curbs for first responders, repairing fences, and hauling trash away from properties. The MLK Festival of Service was in partnership with a vast network of 70+ local community organizations. Over the course of the 4-day event, 9 teams completed over 650 community service hours.
“It was a great feeling to collaborate with my team and new people through service at the MLK Festival of Service”- Malik Blaise
“The importance of community service on MLK Day is to come together as one. I enjoyed helping out today and it was an honor to make a difference with my team.”- Javeayean Williams
“It was a wonderful experience coming together as a team to give back on MLK Day.”
“Dr.King always advocated for equality and for all races to work side by side together. With all of the problems of today’s society, it warmed my heart to see his dream in action as people of all backgrounds came together to beautify the city.”- Adriane Roberson
“It was great volunteering and an even greater feeling watching all the work everyone was putting in collectively come together. Together we created a cleaner and prettier neighborhood. Even in the cold everyone was excited and determined! Our team decided to volunteer because it is important for us to use our gifts and give back.” – Rufaro Chirewa
“Seeing everyone come together to build the community up was simply amazing. It was very uplifting and a great thing to be apart of as well as a great team experience.” – Makenzie Eddings
“Today was a great experience seeing so many people come out and devote their time giving back to the community. Everyone worked hard and did a good job on the paintings. –Khadijah Ahmad
“Last weekend’s service at the MLK Festival of Service was very inspirational. The murals were beautiful and it was a great team bonding experience.”- Taylor Coleman
“I appreciate this opportunity to give back to my community and help with the beautification process at the MLK Festival of Service.” -Arabella Hall
Southern Track & Field
“The overall experience on today was phenomenal! The enlightenment from individuals and team bonding was more than heart warming. We are THE Southern University Track and Field Team and we are proud to make a difference!”- Jamira Russ
LSU Track & Field
“Going out and doing something for my community was a small glimpse of what Martin Luther King Jr. did for my generation and future generations. It’s a good feeling to impact one person, but an even greater feeling to impact a whole community.”-Mikiah Briscoe
“On my way to help paint, the streets were lined with volunteers hard at work. It was so cool to work alongside so many people out celebrating MLK’s legacy.”-Erika Lewis
“I think it was a really good idea to celebrate MLK by spending the day using art to get to know new people and to beautify the community.”- Kaiyln McCarley
“It was an awesome experience seeing so many people from different backgrounds coming together to paint murals and brighten up the town. Despite the cold everyone there was happy to give a helping hand!” Sydney Mukes
“It was awesome to see the community getting together for a great cause and being part of it made it that much better.”- Marlena Cutura
“Being apart of an event that positively affects the community and celebrates a phenomenal hero was the most rewarding experience.”- Chrissy Pitre
Tulane Athletics holds three core pillars for student-athletes: Excellence in Scholarship, Excellence in Sport, Excellence in Service. While community service is a key component of every Tulane student’s experience, Athletics has partnered with Athletes for Hope University to provide its student-athletes with a better platform for giving back to the New Orleans community.
“Intercollegiate athletics, at its core, provides students skilled in athletics an opportunity to prepare themselves for a lifetime of success. Any definition of success in a civil society includes a commitment to serve others, and improve the whole of a society through actions of the individual,” says Tulane Athletic Director Troy Dannen. “The partnership with Athletes for Hope provides our student-athlete an outlet to build an understanding of service to others and further enhance their likelihood of living a successful life, while enhancing the world around them. It is certainly the most win-win opportunity in a world of athletics that is often characterized by the ability to win.”
Since October, all 16 Tulane intercollegiate teams have completed the Athletes for Hope 1.0 Workshop, focused on educating and empowering student-athletes. Now that all Tulane sports teams are enrolled, the student-athletes are moving on the connection phase: finding local causes that members of each team are passionate about and pitching in.
Tulane Women’s Golf
Before their spring season kicked off, the members of the golf team spent a beautiful New Orleans Sunday on the miniature golf course with Special Olympics of Orleans Parish. We can’t say for sure who won, but everyone did have a lot of fun.
The team also plans to host a junior golf clinic during their upcoming home tournament.
When Special Olympics of Louisiana pitched a unified rivalry game between Tulane and LSU, Tulane student-athletes rallied, filling the gym with fans to create a big-game atmosphere.
Check out this video for a full recap of the festivities:
Upcoming in 2017
This spring, in addition to the golf team’s junior clinic:
Volleyball and football will be hosting Special Olympics clinics
Student-athletes will be assisting with the 2nd annual unified Special Olympics 3 vs 3 basketball league hosted at Tulane
Football will be visiting the children’s ward at Tulane Hospital
Teams will be visiting local schools during PE to promote healthy habits
As Tulane Athletics develops the partnership with Athletes for Hope, look for our student-athletes out in the community, and don’t be afraid to say hello when you see them!
There are very few college athletic programs that are synonymous with winning like the UConn Women’s Basketball team. The Huskies are on a quest this 2016-2017 season for their 5th NCAA championship in a row. Despite their quickly approaching season, the team took time out of their busy schedule to participate in an AFH University 1.0 workshop and took time to volunteer last week as part of the Athletes for Active Schools Campaign.
During the workshop, The Huskies discussed many topics such as their platform as college athletes and their role in the community. The Huskies then headed over to Grace Academy, which is a tuition-free middle school for girls from underserved families in Hartford, CT. During the visit, the Huskies met with a group of 60 girls as they shared one interesting fact about themselves with the students, spoke about the importance of physical activity, and then led the students through activities at various stations throughout the gym. The students took part in hula hooping, relay races, yoga, push-up challenges, relay races and more alongside their new friends.
Junior Guard, Gabby Williams, said, “It was super rewarding because the little girls reminded me of how I used to look up at athletes when I was their age. It’s awesome that there are organizations like Athletes for Hope out there that allow us to give back and show kids just how fun and beneficial being active can be. I could tell the girls really enjoyed themselves on Friday so hopefully they were inspired to find a sport or activity they can love and continue to do like we did when we were kids.”
The Huskies will continue their involvement with Let’s Move! Active Schools throughout the semester in an effort to inspire children throughout Connecticut to become more physically active. We are grateful for their efforts and look forward to working with these phenomenal athletes again in the future.