Husky Sport, which uses sports to connect UConn students with children in Hartford’s North End, has received a $75,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.
The grant will support the salaries of five part-time staff persons and cover transportation costs for more than 100 student volunteers who travel from UConn to Hartford and provide as many as 20,000 hours of service each year. The UConn students collaborate with Hartford schools and community organizations to provide sports activities and nutrition lessons and to get the goal of attending college in the minds of the youth. CHEFA is a quasi-governmental agency that helps Connecticut-based non-profit organizations raise funds to for programs that improve the health and education of the state’s citizens.
“Sport based youth development provides the basis for teaching larger life lessons,” says Jennifer Bruening, Ph.D., in the Department of Educational Leadership in the Neag School of Education, who is the director of the program. “We use sport to talk about teamwork and leadership and what it means to make healthy choices. ”
Husky Sport provides an in-school program at Clark School where students in grades kindergarten through 6 participate in a weekly 45 minute Husky Sports class and middle school students are involved in a high school preparation and enrichment program. Clark students join students from Wish School for an after-school program at the Parker Memorial Recreation Center two days a week, and Husky Sport partners with the Hartford Catholic Worker, Salvation Army North End Corps, and Community Renewal Team for two additional days of after-school programming each week.
Husky Sport also provides students at Capital Prep and East Catholic High Schools with early college experience courses and the opportunity to volunteer in the elementary and middle schools in the North End alongside UConn students, while earning early college academic credit.
It also sponsors a literacy program, Read & Raise, for students at Clark, Wish, and Martin Luther King Schools, using motivators such as additional recess time and health food parties, and the ultimate, a trip to UConn for a day for a brunch, awards ceremony and field day.
“Husky Sport has been well received in the North End. The kids love UConn and they love sports. The college students expand their worldview as well. ,” says Bruening. A 2010 Brookings institution report shows Hartford with the highest poverty rate (33.5 percent) of any city in the country.
Initially, the students think they are doing the giving, but they learn so much about the children and their families, they usually realize they are getting an education they probably wouldn’t get any other way.”
For more information on Husky Sport, including how to help support the program, visit here.