TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Honors College member Asia Hayes brings her own experiences to bear when she works as the DREAM coordinator for Engage Tuscaloosa, a forward-thinking endeavor that seeks to improve the lives of area students through working with University of Alabama students.
The transformative nature of the Engage Tuscaloosa program can be expanded with financial contributions during Bama Blitz, an online fundraising event for alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends to support UA programs using the power of social media and crowdfunding.
The first Bama Blitz will begin at noon CST April 11 and end at 8:31 p.m. April 12, lasting one day, eight hours and 31 minutes in honor of the University’s founding year, 1831. Engage Tuscaloosa is one of several passion projects seeking support during the fundraising event.
“Engage Tuscaloosa is not only an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students in Tuscaloosa area schools — our Honors College students also benefit from the experience and see that they can make a difference in the lives of others,” said Vicki Holt, coordinator for educational outreach for UA’s Honors College.
The program brings together about 500 UA students, like Hayes, in an Honors College initiative to foster a culture of expanded educational opportunities among students from preschool to high school and participants in the Boys and Girls clubs and the Hay Court community center, which is part of the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority. The program helps Tuscaloosa children achieve their highest potential and UA students find paths to effective service.
Hayes, who also is the recent recipient of UA’s John F. Ramsey Award, has a range of perspectives on succeeding in school, having grown up in Arizona and Florida and studied abroad in Brazil. She wants Tuscaloosa students to follow her lead. Through the DREAM program, she and her fellow Honors College participants are alerting middle-schoolers to the things they will need to succeed: managing time, taking college-entrance tests and getting along with others.
“In the first semester we talked about scheduling and time management for the stuff that children were interested in – student council, football, cheerleading or dance,” Hayes said. “This semester, we’re talking about how they perceive people and how people perceive them.”
Engage Tuscaloosa is broken into several programs in addition to the DREAM program. BRIGHT works with preschoolers in the areas of sciences and math; READ is engaged in literacy outreach with elementary-school students; and DRIVE seeks to instill skills that will help students find themselves in higher education and careers. In the 2016-2017 school year, Engage Tuscaloosa worked with more than 1,200 local students.
In addition to these programs, a new music initiative called noteABLE is coming into play. In this program, Honors College students are teaching elementary-school children how to play the recorder and fostering a love of music. To support this work, participants will buy children’s books; school supplies, such as crayons, folders and paper, as well as recorders, for the new music class with Bama Blitz funds.
“All the supplies we provide students, such as notebooks, and all the books we buy for the READ program are made possible by money we have to come up with,” said Claire Stebbins , the student director of Engage Tuscaloosa. “All of that money will be going toward books and supplies.”
Those wishing to support the Engage Tuscaloosa can make a gift online at Bama Blitz’s website April 11-12.
Richard LeComte, communications, email@example.com, 205-348-3782