Athletes mentor local youth

Excited students filled their school’s cafeteria on Jan. 24 for the chance to receive encouraging words, hugs and school supplies, brought to them by FAMU athletes.

Students at Nims Middle School were paired with a FAMU athlete as part of the University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s initiative to provide community service activities.

SAAC is a committee made up of student-athletes assembled to provide insight on the student-athlete experience. Since SAAC incorporates community service as a vital part of the program, athletes from each athletic team as well as members of FAMU Elite, a coed cheerleading and competition dance squad, joined together to mentor students in schools on the Southside.

The first initiative of the plan was the “Rattler Pals” mentor program, which paired a student-athlete with a child between the ages of eight and 17. “Night out with a Rattler” was the first event in a series of planned activities for “Rattler Pals.”

Abigail C. Mobley, adviser for SAAC and coach of Elite, went to Nims Middle School last week with a message to the students: “I encourage you to strive hard and do well, so you can always be rewarded for excelling.”

Students were happy and excited about receiving the school supplies.

“I feel good because I didn’t have supplies to work with,” said 13-year-old Andre Williams. “Before this, teachers supplied me with whatever I needed.”

Approximately 12 children participated in the presentation, including sixth-grader Alexis Shears who said she had no idea she would receive anything.

“I feel good that Ms. Donald chose me,” said the shy, 11-year-old. “I am glad to receive by book bag.”

Angela Donald, the referral coordinator for sixth through eight-graders said, “It is the little things that matters to [students].” “They just need encouraging words and a hug to boost their confidence and self esteem.”

And that is exactly what SAAC mentors said they provide.

“I encourage them to be and do their best,” said Maya Lewis, a cheerleader with FAMU Elite. ” [Students] need people who generally support them and I am glad to provide them with that support,” said the junior secondary education student from Bartow.

Senior softball infielder Elisha Scott said she also encourages the middle-schoolers to “do the right thing.” Scott, a health science student from Enterprise, Ala. said she talks to them about not allowing their peers to put them down.

Mobley said the student-athletes and Elite are actively promoting a positive student-athlete image by visiting selected public schools and conducting rallies to promotes important topics.

“If you can get a child to feel good about him or herself, that’s the best thing.

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