Several hundred children participating in the Juveniles in Motion Summer Sports Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff competed in all-day tournaments Wednesday, displaying a variety of skills learned during the season.
JIM, held at the UAPB Kenneth L. Johnson Sr. Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex, provides youth ages 5-18 a productive outlet, said Assistant Coordinator Angela Madison.
“All kids aren’t bad,” she said. “They aren’t all locked up, either.”
Madison said Cedric Jackson, the program coordinator, asked her to do something to help clean up Pine Bluff.
“He said, ‘We could do it if we had to take it child-by-child.’ I told him, ‘let’s go,’” she said.
JIM provides a comprehensive approach to specific needs. Arriving as early as 7:30 a.m., youth engage in a variety of sports — basketball, volleyball, flag football, soccer, tennis, softball and swimming — learn dance and receive meals. Participants also have access to mental health screenings, physicals and mentoring sessions.
“The goal is to enhance the social, physical and nutritional health of children in the surrounding area.” Madison said.
When it comes to making a positive impact on our community, Jackson said the issue is commitment.
“There is no lack of funding, we just need people to put in the time,” Jackson said. “It takes time and consistency. We have to stop talking about what is wrong with Pine Bluff and start making some commitments. ”
With staff that includes certified teachers, a special education teacher, certified coaches and health professionals, Jackson said much of the program’s success is because of its multi-layered capacity to address needs.
“Anyone can benefit from the program, regardless of their situation or abilities,” he said. “Success happens when children are not sitting at home, when there is no daycare fee for the parents and when juvenile delinquency decreases.”
It’s also a great way for kids — who might not otherwise have the opportunity — to be exposed to a college environment, Jackson said.
The program, concluding its second summer, will culminate Thursday with a family fun day. Winners of Wednesday’s tournaments will go on to the final competitions as everyone enjoys bounce houses, games and barbecue.
For more information about Juveniles In Motion, contact Cedric Jackson at 489-6024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.