Count me in: 600 local youth win at Purdue health, skills summer program
June 20, 2014
Campers play tug of war at the 2013 Purdue Athletes Life Success program. Nearly 600 Tippecanoe County youth, ages 8-14, will spend five weeks at camp this summer learning about fitness, sports, healthy eating and financial literacy at the 13th annual PALS, which runs through July 11. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Nearly 600 Tippecanoe County youth, ages 8-14, will spend five weeks at camp this summer learning about fitness, sports, healthy eating and financial literacy at the 13th annual Purdue Athletes Life Success program, which runs through July 11.
The program, which started in 2002, has served more than 3,000 area youth. Campers qualify for the free program based on income guidelines.
"We pack the camp with fun and exciting activities, but the bedrock of PALS is character building through goal-setting, guided physical activity, sports education, gang-avoidance programs and peer relationship building," said Bill Harper, PALS co-director and professor of health and kinesiology. "Reinforcing self-esteem throughout every aspect of camp is critical, especially for underserved youth."
This year's program began June 12, and the College of Health and Human Sciences and previously the College of Liberal Arts have been longtime supporters of PALS.
Since 2007 research has been conducted as part of PALS, and the findings have shown that such a program can benefit children's self-esteem and interest in physical activity. For example, campers who reported the most supportive leaders were more likely to show improvements in self-esteem and motivation for physical activity.
New activities in this year's lineup include learning to play Quidditch, rock climbing, nutrition education and visiting with therapy dogs. The campers spend time at various stations - strategically spaced so campers walk more than an hour a day - to learn about other sports, such as soccer, judo, softball, basketball, swimming, volleyball and active team-building games. Other stations include art, dance and careers. Purdue Federal Credit Union also offers a financial literacy component. The four character pillars of PALS - respectfulness, honesty, dependability and helpfulness - also are a part of each lesson.
Each age group is led by team leaders who are current or recent college students, and about a third of these team leaders are Purdue NCAA athletes or are involved in club sports. Thirteen of this year's team leaders are former campers themselves, and 12 recent campers were selected to serve as junior team leaders.
"One aspect of PALS we are very proud of is the program's emphasis on gang avoidance," Harper said. "A few years ago, program staff picked up on campers referencing gang activity, and PALS then expanded its community partners to address local anti-gang resources and topics in the programming. Reinforcing positive peer-relationships is a theme throughout the program."
Campers play soccer at the 2013 Purdue Athletes Life Success program. Nearly 600 Tippecanoe County youth, ages 8-14, will spend five weeks at camp the 2014 camp this summer. The program, which started in 2002, has served more than 3,000 area youth. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
PALS is supported by many community and campus contributions, including the Division of Recreational Sports, which provides the fields, pool and other areas for activity stations, and Housing and Food Services, where the campers eat breakfast and lunch every day. Doctors and nurse practitioners from Purdue University Student Health Center and Unity Healthcare provided free medical exams to all campers in May. The exams include general physical health, vision, orthopedics and blood pressure.
Program funding comes partially from Purdue Federal Credit Union and the Brees Dream Foundation. Drew Brees is the former All-America quarterback for Purdue and 2010 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. PALS also received financial support from the 2012 and 2013 Purdue Boilermaker Half-Marathon and 5K. This year's race on Oct. 18 will support PALS again, and more information is available at http://purduehalf.com/
PALS also partners with the three local school corporations - Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette - as well as Ivy Tech Community College, the Tippecanoe Prosecutor's Office, Juvenile Magistrate Court, Area IV Agency, Indiana Department of Education, Project Safe Neighborhood and Wabash Valley Alliance.
Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Bill Harper, 765-496-6723, email@example.com