It’s not just about sports

January 4th, 2012 | By Marjie No Comments

When kids first join the program, they can be rough and they often use foul language. But after spending time with our volunteer coaches – in a positive and disciplined environment – they learn to be good team players and they learn sportsmanship.  In fact, just the little bit of time they spend in this environment can make a big difference in their attitude about life, about what they do at home and in school. After a couple of seasons, kids often come up to me and say,
“This isn’t just about sports, is it?” I just smile and say,
“No, it isn’t.” – Ben Farnsworth

More than 100 kids play football … 70 play basketball … 40 cheer … dozens receive academic tutoring … and all this in a program that became a full-fledged non-profit just four years ago.

DTM, or Downtown Ministries, was founded in 2002 by Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Originally, DTM was used to organize youth sports teams, reaching out specifically to at-risk youth. In 2007, DTM became a non-profit entity on its own. DTM Executive Director Ben Farnsworth echoes a statement that you can find on the organization’s website when he says, “Each child involved with us represents a unique story and a specific need, and we are excited for the opportunity to be involved in their lives.”

DTM’s ministry focuses first and foremost on the basic physical and emotional needs of the kids.  Initially, they connect with youth through their sports program, after-school tutoring and various community services. Football, cheerleading and basketball programs allow the kids and their families to come together as a team.

Currently, more than 200 at-risk youth in Athens have participated in a sporting event sponsored by Downtown Ministries. After-school tutoring helps students get individual help with homework from committed volunteers, or the kids can just have the time and quiet place to work on math and reading. An added bonus with the after-school program is the offer of a snack and hang-out time with people who truly care about the youth.

DTM volunteers also participate in Christmas gift outreaches, vacation Bible school programs and various community projects. Recently, the director of education for Downtown Ministries received training to facilitate a workshop entitled Darkness to Light: Adults Protecting Children, which will eventually help volunteers recognize and prevent the sexual abuse of children.

DTM wants to make a different in the lives of Athens residents, starting with our children. According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, almost 40% of Clarke County residents live in poverty, making Athens-Clarke County the poorest metro county (county with more than 50,000 people) in the nation. This organization’s tutoring program, combined with the support that kids receive from caring, dedicated adults, is making a difference in the lives of these young people.

If you would like to be part of this effort, you can support Downtown Ministries with a tax-deductible cash donation, a contribution of your time and expertise as a tutor, or your donation of any kind of new or lightly used sports equipment. Find out more at www.downtownministries.org.

Be Sociable, Share!
Add Comment Register

Leave a Reply

bigstock-Happy-Family-Moments--Mother--63467590

When We All “Adapt,” We All Win!

Usually, we use the “Adaptive MOVES” feature to talk about the latest technology, equipment, or activity being used to enable persons with disabilities to play sports and participate in recreational activities. This issue,…

883871_10203883300389556_8006242355739813128_o

Twilight Criterium is Changing Course

Athens’ Twilight Criterium is returning  April 24 and 25, and it is bringing with it some exciting changes! While previous Twilight races took place in the historic center of Athens, construction on Clayton…

bigstock-Senior-In-Garden-33608774

Great ACTIVities for Seniors

We’ve written about everything from archery to yoga, bird-watching to walking … all of which are great activities for those who are over 50 years of age. Before I continue, though, I’d just…

Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

With nicer weather approaching, many families may be wondering if now is the right time to welcome a four-legged friend into their home. “Animals are a great way to teach responsibility, get active,…

bigstock-Man-and-boy-fishing-on-the-lak-23859308

Fishing for Food, Fun, and Fitness

It is tempting to begin this article by writing “I enjoy fishing.” In all truth, I do enjoy fishing, but I’ve only been fishing (as in, with a rod and reel and bait)…

Project-Leaf-2

Project LEAF

When I entered my first year of graduate school, my heart and mind were overflowing with dreams and goals. I knew I wanted to make a difference. Upon graduating from Valdosta State University,…

bigstock-Young-Girl-Using-Skipping-Rope-4637624

“Hour” kids need this much physical activity every day

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents have 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.  Aerobic (brisk walking, runninga) should make up the majority of…

Girls-Basketball

SECOND SEASON Part 4 of 6

“I don’t want to see a single head lowered in this locker room.” The Shell’s voice had more body than it usually did. It felt heavier and more powerful. “Losing a game is…