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Lewis providing opportunities for Bahamians

Her scholarship finder program seeks to help young Bahamians in their college search
  • Lyndale Lewis, pictured, recently created a educational and sports program, Student Athleticism Bahamas, to help Bahamian students find colleges and universities that will better suit their needs. Photo courtesy of LYNDALE LEWIS

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Apr 18, 2012

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At least one of the parents of local high school track and field athletes is taking a more tangible approach to assist Bahamian student athletes.

Lyndale Lewis, the mother of C.V. Bethel hurdler Kirk Lewis, has started a program based on finding tertiary level opportunities for Bahamian high school athletes to suit their respective needs. The program is based around helping them academically so that they can meet the educational requirements of colleges and universities in the United States. The program, Student Athleticism Bahamas, was born out of a strong desire by Lewis to contribute to the community, especially the public education system.

“We want to reach the academic side of athletics — build a resource center so that deserving young athletes will have an outlet to inquire about their educational and athletic opportunities. We want to go into the schools and build the talent bank so that we could have more and more student athletes finding the right schools that will suit their needs.”

Lewis said that identifying the Bahamian youngsters is just the beginning of the work for them. The main goal of the program, which got off the ground in January, is to develop the talent level of the athletes, monitor them academically, and create a system of top performers in the SAT examinations so that they can compete with other scholar athletes for scholarship opportunities. Lewis recently received a grant from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, to assist her efforts.

“Once we identify the athletes, we’re going to look at their education levels and introduce SAT preparatory classes,” said Lewis. “Our goal is to provide a community center not far from the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. We want to present a community setting, inclusive of a computer center, so that athletes can come in and access information. We want to build a network with the coaches as well so that they can guide their athletes in our direction,” added Lewis.

In inspiring students to focus on their studies, Lewis is hopeful that they will be able to create a balance between athletics and academics so that the young Bahamians can meet the requirements of colleges and universities in the United States. The local recruiter of the program is Grand Bahamian Dwayne Jennings. A number of Bahamians have already benefitted from the program including female sprinter Jermeka McBride from Moore’s Island.

“A lot of people have been very supportive of what we are doing,” said Lewis. “Evon Wisdom and Louise Forbes from the Sports Unit of the Ministry of Education are assisting with the talent bank, and Monique Wilchombe is lending support. The Director of Youth Darren Turnquest is encouraging youth development through the program and we want to thank him for that. Also, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Galloway, has been very insightful and we thank her for that.”

Lewis said jump coaches such as James Rolle and Peter Pratt have been bought into the program, and in return, they will refer their young student athletes to athletic development programs through clubs such as the ones operated by Rolle and Pratt. She said that one of their objectives is to have a more hands-on approach with the student athletes and their parents.

“We’re looking at having a more direct contact with the students,” said Lewis. “We’re going to physically go and build the talent bank, meet parents and deal with them directly, and encourage kids. It’s all about providing an avenue for higher learning for the students through sports and education. We want to go into the Family Islands as well.

“We are asking corporate Bahamas to come on board so that we can bring academics back into the picture. We’re currently working with persons from the Moore’s Island team who are preparing to sit their SAT examinations this June. There are so many other talented young Bahamians out there waiting to be discovered and who are missing out on scholarship opportunities because their academics might not be up to par. We want to eliminate that as much as possible,” added Lewis.

The ambitious track mother said that she was inspired to create the program, first and foremost, for the benefit of her son Kirk, who is in grade 11 at C.V. Bethel Senior High School. Kirk Lewis represented The Bahamas at the seventh International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Youth Championships in Athletics, in Lille, France, last year, and barely team this year. His specialty is the 110 meters (m) hurdles. As a result of winning the Under-20 Boys 4x100m at the Scotiabank High School Nationals, he and his teammates will compete in the prestigious Penn Relays, from April 26-28, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Interested student athletes wanting more information about the Student Athleticism Bahamas can contact Lyndale Lewis at 376-8587.

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