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Sport programs help youth maintain positive GPA

As a way to keep kids interested in school, Parks and People sponsors many sport teams that require children to maintain at least a C average in their classes. Jean DuBose, assistant director of program development for Parks and People, said all of the sport teams, which include soccer, lacrosse and baseball, have an academic component.

"[For example] when the soccer season ends, they will still meet with their coach a certain number of times a week to work on academics," she said, adding that coaches track sport participants' attendance in school. Each child is required to maintain a 90 percent attendance rate.

"They can't be absent from school. They got to stay in school, they got to do their homework," DuBose said.

Sports

The Baltimore Middle School Soccer League, which is also sponsored by The Abell Foundation and Baltimore City Public Schools, is open to boys and girls during fall and spring seasons. There are eight boys and girls teams; annually more than 480 children participate. Kids practice after school and compete with other middle schools around the City.

More than 150 students participated in The Baltimore City Middle School Lacrosse League last year. The league is offered April through June and consists of eight middle schools. The U.S. Lacrosse Foundation and Baltimore City Public Schools also sponsor the league where children learn the fundamentals of lacrosse and build teamwork.

The Baltimore Baseball League strives to teach Baltimore children the rules of baseball, while they keep academics a major priority. The league has existed since 1992 and is for boys in elementary and middle school. Games are played April through June and last year more than 500 students competed. The Abell Foundation, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, Baltimore City Public Schools and The Baltimore Orioles, sponsor the baseball league.

The Baltimore Starlings Volleyball Club is one of Parks and People's most successful groups. Members of the club practice daily and in 2002, the Starlings attended 12 Junior Olympic Volleyball Tournaments. Dubose said currently there are12 high school seniors and nine of them received scholarships to college.

"I can't think more highly of the coaches and everyone who run these programs," Dubose said. "I really think for kids who don't have a lot of access to resources, getting them involved in structured, fun activities with responsible adults, it's just amazing. I think the Starlings is such a great example of that. They got opportunities because of their commitments to their programs."

Parks and People also offers other programs such as Kids Grow and the Gwynns Falls Trail council.

Related Stories

Organization teaches kids Fundamentals of reading: The Parks and People Foundation helps kids struggling with reading skills through camps.

Programs increase environmental awareness: Aside from sports, Parks and People also has a program called Kids Grow, which teaches elementary school students about the environment.

Trail to unite Baltimore City neighborhoods: Soon Baltimore City is going to be known for its green fields, clear streams and 14-mile long trail that connects 30 neighborhoods.

Transcription of Interview - People and Parks