Student-athletes at Cincinnati Public Schools recently took their leadership skills beyond the playing field. As part of the Student-Athlete Leadership Teams Giveback Initiative (“SALT Giveback”) student-athletes from 11 CPS junior/senior high schools were paired with younger students from 5 local elementary schools. Giving to others teaches students that we are all part of a larger community, and each individual can have a positive impact on the lives of others through the giving of their time and resources.
During the 2018-2019 school year, a select group of student-athletes was invited by the district athletic office to participate in a leadership conference. During the conference, the student-athletes planned their giveback activities for the current 2019-2020 school year. Among the activities selected was a school supply and book drive, in which the student-athletes delivered large bins of books and a huge crate of school supplies to the elementary school students. The books were donated to the participating school’s library for all of the children to enjoy. Each school selected a single classroom to receive the crate of school supplies.
The student-athletes delivered the gifts in-person to their partnered elementary school. As the high school students dropped off the books, many took a few moments to look through the bins of books, sparking childhood memories. One student named Manuyala, a senior at Shroder High School, held up Diary of a Whimpy Kid and said, “My auntie was a librarian when I was little, and she would make me read books whenever I was over her house,” while her classmate searched the bin for Dr. Seuss books.
As an added treat the younger students got to spend some time interacting with the high school students, and received some nuggets of wisdom encouraging them to study hard, be themselves, and get involved in extracurricular activities. “It’s important to be in sports, you get a whole new family and group of friends,” said Alaysia, an 11th grader at SCPA. The elementary students asked questions about high school homework, leadership, and changing classes.
Michael, a student from Walnut Hills, told his younger counterparts, “grades are huge, especially if you want to go to college. College costs a lot of money, but if you take care of your business you can go to school for free.” The younger students nodded their heads, affirming that they were agreeing to strive for excellence in their studies. The older students who attended the giveback between Withrow High School, Shroder High School, and Bond Hill Academy walked around the cafeteria, giving the preschool and kindergarten students high fives and taking selfies.
The development of leadership skills is a key benefit of playing sports at the high school level. While many of the student-athletes may not go on to play professionally, the leadership skills that they earn will continue to serve them in every aspect of their lives. Cincinnati Public Schools strives to ensure that when students graduate, they are prepared for life. Activities Beyond the Classroom is proud to partner with CPS to work to develop skill sets that employers and universities desire.