Bitter Lake Community Center’s Senior Coordinator Barb Wade said that the Aaron Brooks Foundation Drills and Skills program teaches kids discipline. That’s an understatement.
This summer about 50 students packed the gyms at Bitter Lake Community Center from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. learning new basketball dribbling techniques and skills. If the drills became too easy, the students were told to focus and to try completing them with their eyes closed.
The Drills and Skills program was created by James Hampton, a former recreation specialist for Rainier Community Center’s teen Late Night Recreation program. Hampton saw too many teens getting themselves into trouble because they didn’t have structured positive activities to participate in after school. Hampton wanted to create a program that would cater to students’ recreational interests while also engaging them in curriculum-based activities.
The mission of Drills and Skills is to empower youth to become successful citizens by providing a safe nurturing environment where they can develop academic, social and leadership skills. The Drills and Skills program, in partnership with the Aaron Brooks Foundation, is working with schools and community centers in underserved communities to build a comprehensive development strategy for youth.
Currently, the program operates at Bitter Lake and Van Asselt community centers. Students range in grades from elementary to high school. During the school year, participants start their sessions with tutoring and homework help and then participate in enriching physical activities like basketball.
Jasmine Srey is going to be a senior in high school this year. She participates in the program and assists Hampton with various tasks like preparing breakfast and lunch for the kids.
“Obviously the program helps kids get better at basketball, but it’s more about teaching them discipline and responsibility,” Srey said.
Osamu Abe is a volunteer coach for Drills and Skills and said he enjoys coaching youth during the summer. He said being there for two months gives him a chance to see a significant transformation in the students’ skill levels from the beginning to the end of the program.
“Drills and Skills has really helped my game,” Federal Way High School junior Imani Dunn said. “I’m going to be so much better when I get back to my school team, and I haven’t even been here the whole summer.”
To learn more about the Drills and Skills program, visit http://aaronbrooksfoundation.org/drillsandskills/. Students can register for the 2015 programs by visiting https://class.seattle.gov/parks/Start/Start.asp.
The Aaron Brooks Foundation is a nonprofit organization providing mentoring and leadership; encouraging at-risk youth in high poverty areas of Seattle to complete their education. For more information, please visit http://aaronbrooksfoundation.org/.