Endurance, motivation, dependability and teamwork are skills developed through sports that often transfer to real life. That’s why 100 Dane County children participated today in Hoops for Hope, a free basketball skills clinic sponsored by Oscar Mayer Foods in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department.
“Children are our hope for the future, and we should do everything we can to encourage them to reach their full potential. Studies have shown that children who do not participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to drop out of school, receive poor grades, and engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors,” said Rick Searer, President, Oscar Mayer Foods Division. “That’s why it is important to reach out to them with positive messages and experiences. Hoops for Hope is a great upbeat environment to deliver those messages and encourage local youths to participate in team sports and educational activities.”
The day-long session at the UW’s Kohl Center encouraged boys and girls ages 9 -12 to participate in team sports and educational activities as a way to make a positive difference in their lives. Kids learned basketball and team building skills with the help of UW women’s basketball coach Jane Albright and several of her staff and players including senior center Sarah Jirovec; senior guard Kyle Black; senior guard Tamara Moore; junior guard Leah Hefte; and junior guard Candas Smith.
“It’s gratifying for me and my players and to be able to work in a basketball clinic with such a large number of kids from our community who don’t normally have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities,” Albright said. “We all believe that involvement in youth sports can play an important role in developing the skills we need as adults, like goal setting, self-motivation and teamwork.”
The event also featured nationally known motivational speaker and ball handler Robyn Rodgers, who shared the positive experiences she has gained through team activities and demonstrated her amazing ball handling skills with some help from the kids.
Along with the UW players and Oscar Mayer volunteers, local Madison celebrities, including NBC 15 News anchor Mike McKinney and sportscaster Jeremy Woods, WISC sportscaster Marney Gellner, and WKOW sportscaster Jay Wilson, helped coach the kids through various drill stations. At each drill station they learned and practiced basketball skills such as shooting, passing and rebounding. Afterwards, the kids put their new skills to work in games and contests. Oscar Mayer provided each child with a T-shirt and duffel bag.
The children who participated in the event are involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, the Atwood Community Center and the East Madison Community Center. The Boys and Girls Club serves more than 600 children through educational, cultural, leadership, social and fitness programs. The Atwood Community Center serves nearly 4,000 individuals in Dane County, as well as providing after-school activities for youths and day care facilities. Established in 1966, the East Madison Community Center serves low to lower-middle income children living in Madison’s east side community, providing social, educational, recreational and cultural programming.
“Oscar Mayer and Kraft firmly believe that it is important to give back and help the communities where we live and work,” said Searer. “It is our hope that the kids who participated in our Hoops for Hope today will take away some of the life enhancing skills that can help with challenges they may face down the road, both at home and at school.”
The Madison Hoops for Hope program is modeled after Kraft Foods’ successful Hoops for Hope program for children in Chicago’s inner city. Hoops for Hope is part of Kraft and Oscar Mayer’s continuing commitment to help children and families in need.
Oscar Mayer, a division of Kraft Foods, is a major contributor to programs that fight hunger, promote diversity and help children and families at risk. Kraft Foods, the nation’s largest packaged food company, is the North American food business of Philip Morris Companies, Inc.