FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2007
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919
NATIONAL YOUTH SPORTS PROGRAM OFFICIAL CONFIRMS MTSU
WILL NOT CONDUCT SUMMER CAMP FOR AT-RISK YOUTH IN ‘07
National Director for NYSP Says MTSU Not Alone in Lack of Funding;
Urges Community Members to Contact Senators, Congressmen for Help
(MURFREESBORO)—For the second consecutive, the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), a monthlong summer camp for at-risk youth, will not be held at MTSU, confirmed National Program Director Gale Wiedow. In 2005, federal funding for the national program was eliminated, Wiedow said.
“These programs are unable to continue without increased institutional and local community support,” he said. Locally, MTSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance faculty members have overseen the grant-funded camp, which combines sports instruction and recreation with educational programs, for about 300 at-risk youth from qualifying low-income. However, because no federal money for NYSP was provided in the 2005 fiscal year Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, also known as H.R. 3010, support for the NYSP program at MTSU—as well as 201 other NYSP programs nationwide—will not be available this year, confirmed NYSP organizers.
From 2002-2005, MTSU’s NYSP staff and volunteers provided nearly 1,000 Rutherford County youth with free medical and dental health screenings as well as four weeks of summer fun with educational, health-focused activities that included life lessons and skills. Free transportation to and from the weekday camp was included in the free program, as were two USDA-approved meals each day.
Dr. Dianne Bartley, chairwoman of health and human performance and past NYSP coordinator for MTSU, said prior NYSP campers participated in activities such as self-defense, soccer, swimming, basketball, tennis, volleyball, golf, racquetball, weight training, and social and aerobic dance. “This program has been so very valuable for the young people who attended,” she said. “These campers also took part in educational classes instructed by MTSU educators and community leaders on topics such as alcohol/drug abuse and violence prevention, proper nutrition, personal health and disease prevention, career opportunities and job responsibilities, and higher education.”
Wiedow said MTSU is not alone in its inability to attract money to support the program, but some NYSP programs—including Tennessee State University in Nashville, which is currently the state’s lone operating program in ‘07—have been able to secure alternative funding to conduct programs on their campuses. “Fifty other programs will run this year,” he said, “(but each of them has been) funded locally by grant money as well as the institution itself helping.” Currently headquartered in Indianapolis, NYSP was created when representatives from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports piloted its concept during summer 1968 at two university athletic facilities. On March 17, 1969, the White House announced the federal government was committing $3 million to establish a sports program for economically disadvantaged youth, and NYSP was born. Today, the National Youth Sports Program Fund (NYSP Fund), which operates under the National Youth Sports Corporation (NYSC) moniker, is a nonprofit organization established to administer NYSP projects nationwide.
Both Bartley and Wiedow agree that that if MTSU is to continue sponsoring the summer camp for at-risk youth, the local community must exercise its collective voice to help restore funding for NYSP so that it can return in 2008. Wiedow suggested residents utilize the Web to contact their local state senators at www.senate.gov and their state representatives at www.house.gov. For more information on NYSP, access its home page at http://www.nyscorp.org/nysp/home.html.