Toronto, Canada (PressExposure) September 10, 2009 -- Centennial Collegeâs Play It Smart program is looking for 160 energetic kids who want to learn some basketball skills and brush up on their math and English studies, too.
The free community outreach program offers a mix of school tutoring in English, math and science, as well as some basketball instruction and house league play on a professional court. The 20-week program, which will take place every Saturday morning between September 26 and next April, is recruiting Scarborough children between the ages of 7 and 13.
"For some of the kids, the carrot really isn't the basketball," says organizer and business professor Vern Kennedy of last yearâs inaugural program. "Itâs an opportunity to get some extra help in English and math. We had one young girl who was specifically interested in learning how to write well."
Each Saturday, participants will receive 30 or 60 minutes of tutoring in a subject they need help in, then the instruction moves onto the hardwood for a half-hour of basketball coaching and a half-hour of house-league play. Kennedy borrowed the concept from his friend Claude Nembhard, who has coached basketball to children in North York and York Region.
Centennial would like to draw kids from the Malvern neighbourhood in northeast Scarborough, with a special emphasis on boys and girls in grades 7 and 8. The youth will be bused from the Malvern Town Centre to Ashtonbee Campus at no cost. Corporate sponsors such as Telus, Canadian Tire and Boston Pizza are donating cash and products to help defray costs.
"The Centennial College Student Association provided our volunteer mentors and they did a fantastic job," says Kennedy. "I can't say enough about the creativity and commitment shown by our own college students, who gave up 20 mornings to work with these kids."
Kennedy, who teaches marketing and advertising, says introducing youngsters to a college campus now will help them feel less intimidated by post-secondary education in the future.