Wednesday, July 4, 2012

KCKCC's NYSP provides many benefits for KCK youth


Six years as a participant in the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), Anthony Morgan is in his fifth year of camp leadership. Ivy Cullen has been a team leader for the past seven years; Carla Pestock is in her seventh years a camp coordinator.

While coming from diverse areas, all agree that there’s nothing better for the youth of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County than the 17th annual summer program offered at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

“It gets kids out of the house and involved in activities they may not otherwise ever participate,” says Morgan, a Sumner Academy graduate and social studies teacher at Raytown Central middle school in his first year as NYSP Activity Director. “With all the electronic technology today, too many kids don’t get out and are not active. In NYSP, they’re introduced to new sports, meet and make new friends and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.”   

Each day, anywhere from 170 to 180 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 16 are shuttled to the KCKCC campus for five hours of fun and games, classroom work and healthy meals.

“No one wants to miss,” says Pestock, a coordinator for the KCKCC Community Education Division. “We had 184 applicants this year, the most in my seven years.”

“The kids enjoy coming and making new friends,” agrees Cullen, whose son Cullen Brown has been in the program every year. “He was supposed to go out of town the last week but he won’t leave until NYSP is over because he wants to be there for his team.”

Campers are divided into eight teams during the five-week program. The main focus of the camp is on learning the fundamentals of the various sports and the classroom work in math and science, general education and alcohol and drug prevention.

“We also added an anti-bullying program this year presented by the KCK Police Department,” says Pestock. “Team leaders are reinforcing the message through the day in their team building time with the kids. Campers are learning their words have impact and what strategies to sue to diffuse bullies.”

As a bonus, the teams are awarded incentive points for good behavior, attendance and sportsmanship as well as hard work and teamwork as judged by the camp’s sports professionals, classroom teachers and staff.

There’s also weekly competition in such areas as relay races, tug of war, obstacle courses, basketball, musical chairs and dance contests.  

It will all come to a head on Olympic Day Thursday, July 12, when the winning team is announced along with the Female and Male Campers of the Year, “You can see the kids getting motivated for Olympic Day, they really get competitive and enthusiastic and even have their own chants.”

At stake is a pizza party and a ride in a limo to Super Splash Water Park on Friday, July 13. All campers get to go to Super Splash but only the winning team gets the limo ride and pizza.

While competition is a part of the program, the major thrusts are in the instruction provided by the NYSP staff.

Staff members include many young adults attending college and competing in athletics along with sports professionals working in several school district in the area including the USD 500 schools.

Many of the staff members were once campers in the program who have returned to give back to the community.e 

“NYSP gives the children confidence and leadership abilities,” adds Cullen. “They enjoy coming because they can express themselves in different ways. It’s not unusual for a child who came in without many friends blossoms and comes out of his or her shell. It’s also amazing to see how well they work together when they want to win.”

In addition to transportations to the KCKCC campus, campers are provided breakfast and lunch by MeMa’s Old Fashioned Blue Devil  Bakery and Deli.

“Our goal is to introduce the children to new and exciting healthy food choices,” says MeMa’s owner Loraine Waldeck. “Although sometimes they are a bit hesitant, they are always willing to give things a try. They are also very appreciative when they come in for breakfast and lunch.”

“Nestle USA and Schatz Distributing, the local distributor of Nesquik milk, provides all the milk for the program which not only helps financially but clears the way for MeMa’s to concentrate on providing healthy meals,” says Pestock.

Other sponsors in addition to KCKCC, which took over the sponsorship of the program when federal aid was with withdrawn, include KCK/WyCo Parks and Recreation, the American Red Cross, Kidzone and Federal Office Products.

Sunflower Hills provides the golf instruction with The First Tee of Greater Kansas City funding the golf shuttle to and from Sunflower Hills.

The cost of the five-week program is $25 and includes transportation, breakfast and lunch each day and a camp T-shirt.

PHOTO: Breakfast and lunch provided by MeMa’s Blue Devil Bakery and Deli and milk provided by Nestle are big hits with the more than 170 boys and girls taking part in the 17th annual National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) at Kansas City Kansas Community College this summer. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)