In conjunction with the After-School All-Stars of NYC program, the school welcomed tennis great John McEnroe and Olympic medalist Edwin Moses, who together took part in various activities on campus and spoke to 500 children from CampUs, a summer academic and athletic enrichment program at the university since 1997.After visiting several classrooms, watching the kids play chess, and having some fun with the kids at DaSilva Memorial Field, McEnroe and Moses addressed children from the New York City Housing Authority and homeless shelters throughout the city at Alumni Hall.Moses, chairman of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, USA, announced a new $60,000 grant given to Fight Back! - a martial arts program that offers jujitsu as an alternative to gang-related violence and domestic violence in the South Bronx, also telling the children in attendance to look beyond just sports and entertainment as future careers."Academics [are] the way," he told them. "There are a lot of careers out there for you."A father of six, McEnroe said he knows how important it is to give opportunities to kids.A native of Douglaston, McEnroe became involved with the Laureus foundation four years ago and said that implementing programs like this in the United States was something he encouraged.Other sporting figures who are members of Laureus include Olympic medalists Nadia Comaneci, Michael Johnson, and Mark Spitz as well as Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, and Jack Nicklaus. A worldwide organization, its idea is to create a global tribute to sports.Of the 26 overall programs, only four are based in the United States."One thing I pushed for when I joined the group," said McEnroe, who was honored by the organization in 2000, and is one of 41 legendary athletes who volunteer their time and effort to the foundation, "was doing stuff in the U.S."Of being able to participate in a program so close to home, McEnroe called it "particularly gratifying," adding "growing up so close ... it's really nice to be part of something so close by."According to John Miottel, executive director of Laureus, children who aren't as advantaged, both socially and economically, often lose what they gained during the school year when summer rolls around."What we're making sure is that they go into the next school year as armed or better armed as their peers," he said. "These kids don't have a chance so what we're doing is providing a chance for them. We are also providing a healthy environment."The three things they stress are: Staying away from drugs, respecting your environment and being a good person."It's social, it's educational, it's physical," Miottel said. "So those three, the mind, the body, the spirit, that's what we're trying to develop here for these kids."Added Dr. Richard Sinatra, Project Director and Chairman of Human Services and Counseling at St. John's, who developed the program eight years ago: "Not only do we take them out of the environment and stop the summer slide, but their teachers [in the program] came out of the same environment. These people working with them in the summer act as role models."CampUs, which now has 14 chapters, originated in the early 90s and was first called the Inner City Games Foundation
©2004 Community News Group
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