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Write on Sports teams up with New Jersey Devils to host After School program for Boys & Girls Club of Newark

by Shannon Schmitt / New Jersey Devils

Seated around the NJ Devils Executive Boardroom table, a small group of dedicated students from the Boys and Girls Club of Newark listened intently as Dave Popkin conducted a mock interview with Janee Johnson. Popkin, a veteran sportscaster who has logged over 20 years covering sports for MSG, ESPN3 and current Voice of the Northeast Conference (college basketball), demonstrated how a professional sportscaster would begin an interview and the type of questions to ask that would open up the athlete for a well-rounded story. Johnson, a forward on the Seton Hall women’s basketball team recently named on the Big East Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll, provided insight to not just her game style but also some background on how she fell in love with the game. The students took notes, raised their hands patiently to ask their questions and developed a good rhythm with Popkin and Johnson. When the group broke into “locker room style”, where the students are encouraged to move between the guests in free-form type of questioning, they continued to pepper the guests with questions. When the guests packed up to leave, Takiyah, one of the WoS/BGCN After School students, said “Today was a different experience for me. I never really get a chance to meet basketball players or people who know basketball players. It was really fun!"

Write on Sports

In the Write on Sports program, the students practice literacy skills by engaging in the work of sports journalists. Students write sports stories based on special events, like the guests from Seton Hall, and attending a Devils game, as they did on March 6. "The Winter of 2015 has brought an exciting opportunity for Write On Sports staff and scholars as we partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Newark and the Prudential Center”, Jim Fabros, a teacher with Write on Sports in both the After School and Summer programs. “The Boys and Girls Club provided us with eager scholars. The Prudential Center displayed their desire to be a major part of the Newark community by really "rolling out the red carpet" for the young children in our program. They went above and beyond for these children by providing brand new touch screen lap tops for scholars to use, having ample snacks for hungry after school children, allowing us to use almost any room needed to get our work in the facility, and even getting us box seats at one of the New Jersey Devils games”.  The students also plan, film and edit their own video stories about a sports topic of interest. "Partnering with Write on Sports and the New Jersey Devils is the kind of community collaboration that the Boys & Girls Club of Newark believes is integral to our growth and success. This after school program is providing tools for our members that compliments what they are receiving at BGCN and in the classroom. The subject of hockey and sports is an added benefit” Kavita Mehra, Chief Transformation Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark.

Write on Sports has been providing after-school programs for students at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark for the past three years. However, this is the first program that is being held at the Prudential Center in partnership with the New Jersey Devils. “It has been a privilege to host and interact with these students from the Newark Boys & Girls Club each week as we continue to find new ways to open our doors and engage our community,” said Hugh Weber, president of Prudential Center. “Their enthusiasm for the Write on Sports program and their overall energy while they’re in the building is contagious, and a great reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to provide these kinds of opportunities.”

Write on Sports

The focus of WoS is middle school youth – particularly the student in the sixth, seventh or eighth grade who shows promise and can benefit from such a program. We seek to inspire and to encourage all the students we work with to become more confident writers. In addition to the After School Program, the foundation of WoS is the Summer Camp program. Camp is a two week session that takes the curriculum of the after school program to a larger scale. As a non profit, the organization receives funds from individuals, foundations and corporations. Tuition is free. This is the 10th Anniversary year for Write on Sports and this year, eight camps will be held simultaneously in three states.

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