Over the past three weeks, that vision has become a reality for Purnell and the dozens of Wittenberg athletic department personnel and students who have been involved in the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP). Through a grant of more than $95,000 by the NYSP Fund and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that is funding the activities for 2001 and 2002, more than 200 young people have been doing all the things Purnell envisioned.
"This is a terrific opportunity for the youth of Springfield to experience our campus thanks to a unique partnership between Wittenberg University, the Springfield City School District, the Springfield Urban League, the National Trail Parks and Recreation District and other local community action agencies," Purnell said.
The grant is administered by the NYSP Fund, which combines funding from the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Wittenberg's camp, which is modeled after others operated by approximately 200 colleges and universities around the nation, provides for a structured athletic and educational enrichment program for area youths aged 10-16. Campers participate at no cost from 7:30 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. each day.
Wittenberg is only the second NCAA Division III college in Ohio to take on the NYSP camp for the benefit of its community. Among the other Ohio educational institutions that host NYSP camps are the University of Akron, University of Toledo, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Youngstown State University and Ohio State University.
"Wittenberg is delighted to be working with the NCAA and neighborhood groups to provide summer opportunities for young people," said Baird Tipson, Wittenberg president. "I'm especially pleased that the young people will be exercising their minds as well as their bodies. We are grateful to Garnett for his leadership in bringing us an opportunity to offer our facilities to the Springfield community."
The program has two major parts: athletic and enrichment. Athletic activities offered are those with potential for life-long benefits, including tennis, swimming, softball, golf, dance, racquetball and track.
Enrichment activities take place each day in Wittenberg classrooms, and take advantage of area resources, such as the COSI Science Center and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. These activities are aimed at better nutrition, disease prevention, personal health, math, science, alcohol and drug prevention, crafts, college success, career opportunities, and many others.
The camp began on June 11 with 225 campers, but it was expanded recently to include the 50 children who were previously on a waiting list. In the future, Purnell hopes the camp will grow to accommodate 500 or more young people.