Students serve at-risk teenagers in spare time

Part of the university’s mission statement of “preparing students for leadership, service and faith-informed discernment in a global society,” is lived out by two sports management majors.

Twice a week, Dr. Mickey Kerr, an exercise sport science professor, has students volunteer to go to an alternative high school in Belton to work with young people.

“I was contacted by Debby Aldridge about having some of my students come to Waskow last September,” Kerr said. “They play intramural type games with them and also serve as mentors for the at-risk teens.”

Senior sport management majors Tyler Burke and Bryson Tucker allow the students to be rewarded if they have good behavior throughout the day.

Without their after-school volunteering, the boys at the high school would not have any physical exercise.

“I do my best to give them a good example of what respect and courtesy looks like while being competitive,” Tucker said. “Every once in  a while, we will have a day where we don’t play sports, and we sit around and share personal thoughts and feelings about all of our different life experiences and how we handle them.”

Aldridge, the site coordinator for Communities in Schools, is grateful to have Burke and Tucker’s help and commitment of giving up their own time to serve at the school.

“I have been really pleased with them, their efforts and I’m just amazed at what quality individuals they are,” she said. “Both young men are so easy to work with … They have nice, low-key personalities and are not glory or ego seeking.”

There has been positive feedback from everyone involved in volunteering.

“The social workers said that the students we volunteer with are more productive and  have positive attitudes,” senior sports management major Burke said.

Kerr agrees.

“Debby is ecstatic about the results and overwhelmed by our students’ willingness to be there for the high school guys each week.”

Not only is it good for the students to participate in physical exercise, but having someone to look up to means a lot to them as well.

“We are able to talk to the guys about what is going on in their lives and be there for them since several of them don’t have a male figure in their life,” Burke said.

Not only have the high school students benefited by having the after-school program, but  Burke and Tucker have been able to learn and are more prepared for when they graduate college from their work with volunteering.

“It’s really showed me as a 22-year-old that some of my hardest days are like a walk in the park compared to some of their situations,” Tucker said. “They smile, laugh, joke and have fun every day in spite of what’s going on in their life.”

There is always an opportunity for student volunteers, especially women, at Waskow High School. If interested, contact Debby Aldridge at deborah.aldridge@bisd.net.

Author: Brooke Morgan

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