The Florida State University College of Social Work has concluded its first two-week summer camp for middle-school children that served as the pilot project for CSW Arts & Athletics, a new program focusing on positive youth development.
The program brought together 20 young people from June 18-29 for the opportunity to benefit from arts, athletics and college preparatory activities.
“Based upon a significant amount of research, I have no doubt that the arts and athletics change lives and help prepare young people for a wide range of educational and career opportunities, but most of all to lead fulfillingl ives,” said College of Social Work Dean Nick Mazza, an internationally recognized scholar in arts therapies. “The College of Social Work is unique in offering an integrated community outreach program drawing upon the common ground found in sports and arts housed within a university setting that offers resources to promote academic development and life skills.”
The brainchild of Mazza, CSW Arts & Athletics is an initiative designed to reach out to Big Bend-area youth, including those with limited social and economic resources. Using the combined strengths of arts and athletics exercises and activities, the program focuses on cultivating leadership development, academic achievement and social and life skills in the young people it serves.
CSW Arts & Athletics also is part of the college’s larger mission to create collaboration between Florida State and the greater Tallahassee community. FSU students were involved in the camp as a service-learning experience, serving as camp counselors and working closely with the young people enrolled in the camp.
The first-ever camp was a success, thanks to the financial support of Guy Spearman, a legislative lobbyist and 1975 graduate of the Master’s in Social Work program, and his wife, Delores, and the collaboration of several FSU entities. The Florida State team included Lorne Sam and Monk Bonasorte from FSU Athletics; Russell Williams from FSU’s College Reach-Out Program (CROP), which is administered by the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE); Marcia Rosal, professor and director of the art therapy program from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance; Mazza; and L. Shuntel Fuller, event coordinator from theCollege of Social Work.
With continued support, Mazza said he hopes CSW Arts & Athletics will become one of the College of Social Work’s premier community projects to help preteens and teenagers in the Big Bend. The College is considering expanding the program to include after-school programs with artists and athletes serving as role models.