Wednesday, April 08, 2009

GSU basketball teams coach After-School All-Stars Atlanta kids

The Georgia State University men’s and women’s basketball teams coached more than 200 Atlanta Public School seventh and eighth grade students at a basketball clinic March 28 in the Sports Arena.

The clinic was sponsored by the After-School All-Stars Atlanta program, housed in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health.

The students, who play on middle school basketball teams, listened to a motivational speaker and then received help from GSU players with basketball fundamentals, including dribbling, passing, layups, rebounding and defensive slides.

The After-School All-Stars Atlanta program, part of a national initiative, currently provides more than 2,000 at-risk students in nine middle schools in Atlanta with tutoring, recreation, technology instruction and club activities. The partnership between Georgia State and the After-School All-Stars program began in 1999.

“We make after school fun and exciting,” said Walter Thompson, executive director of the program and GSU Regents professor of exercise physiology. “Kids are learning and they don’t even know they’re learning.”

After-School All-Stars Atlanta has been shown to improve student achievement, Thompson said.
Students who participate in the after school program have higher test scores in all three categories of the Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Test, better attendance rates and higher GPAs, sometimes as much as a letter grade, Thompson found.

“We’re sure the program is effective,” Thompson said. “We have a model we think is scalable and cost effective enough for us to expand into all the middle schools in and around Atlanta.”
Community members are noticing the impact of After-School All-Stars Atlanta as well. The program last year received the “Regional Excellence Award” from the Civic League for Regional Atlanta, one of four awards given by the non-profit to individuals, organizations or initiatives that create a better Atlanta region. The program also received in October a $2 million grant from the Georgia Department of Human Resources’ Division of Children and Family Services to expand its programming.

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